US Performing Arts: "Much Ado About Nothing" Takes on the 80s

And that’s a wrap! Sun Valley Community School’s Upper School recently brought one of William Shakespeare’s most popular comedies, Much Ado About Nothing, to Sun Valley Community School’s stage February 10-12. But this wasn’t your typical Bard performance; director Kevin Wade ‘06 brought new life to this classic Shakespearian comedy by updating the story to take place in the 1980s and audiences could not get enough. 

The plot revolved around two romantic pairings between main characters Benedick and Beatrice and Claudio and Hero. Themes of misunderstandings, love and deception, intrigue, and action entertained audiences. Directed by Kevin Wade ‘06 (US + MS Theater teacher, Co-Director of the Creative Arts Academy, and Creative Arts Department Chair), the show took on a new twist. Kevin explains, “We updated this story to take place in southern California in the mid 1980s, and audiences had a blast remembering, rediscovering or hearing for the first time (in the case of some of our younger patrons) many classic songs from the era. Our ‘way in’ for this piece was through the idea of the rumor mill. We all know how slander, falsehoods, and misinformation can have grave consequences, and that idea is particularly accessible to Upper School students. We explored that theme as our main access point to this hilarious and touching play. Love conquers all, and can strike us at unexpected moments–this play was about staying open to newness, and being true to ourselves.”

The cast included more than 25 Upper School students on the stage and in the technical booth. Cast members include Charlie Coulter (as Don John), Noah Davis-Jeffers (as Claudio), Emma Desserault (as Hero), Hailey Jackson (as Beatrice), Ava Kowalski (as Benedick), and Cassius Klingenfuss (as Don Pedro). Other student thespians include: Brady Giles, Callan Duke, Elizabeth Dahlen, Elyse Duffield, Etienne Blumberg, Ida Belle Gorby, Imogen Harris, Katie Gardiner, Luc Gilbreath, Paisley Shapiro, Paola Alvarado, Phoebe Everett-Williams, Priya Merchant, Rose Bicas-Dolgen, and Steven Serva-Gonzales. In the tech booth: Tyler Salvoni (sound design, projection design, sound operator), Bridgette Silva (movement coordinator), Brady Giles (music director), Koa Mott and Carter Hickey (light operators, projection design), Thor Roberts (projection operator), Kyan Gandhi (projection design, sound operator). Lighting design by professional designer Oak Neel.