Much Ado About Nothing

2014 Illinois Shakespeare Festival

Director: Jonathan West
Scenic Design: Kristin Ellert
Lighting Design: Sarah Maines
Costume Design: Lauren Lowell
Composer/Music Director: Shannon O’Neill
(except “Welcome Sweet Pleasure”
by Thomas Weelkes, arranged by Shannon O'Neill)
Asst. Music Director: Kieran Pereira
Choreographer: Jean Kerr
Photographer: Pete Guither

Cello: Adrienne Boni
Flute: Pamela Schuett
Oboe: Michelle Plunkett

In this production of Much Ado About Nothing, we decided to explore original practices and use an all-male cast. As a team, we did not want the focus of the design to be centered around the fact that we had men playing women. Instead, we aimed to focus on character relationships and how they develop throughout the show.

Another production during the 2014 season, Elizabeth Rex, served as a companion production for this piece. Rex starts off when Much Ado ends … it opens with the actors coming off stage and into the wings after a production of Much Ado for the Queen.

The music here is orchestrated for cello, oboe, and flute. The first piece in the video is an arrangement of Thomas Weelkes’ Welcome Sweet Pleasure, which was sung by the entire cast at the top of the show. The second piece of music in the video is an instrumental version of a song I wrote for the top of the first act. The instrumental version was used as transition music, while at the top of Act 2, Dogberry and company sang a rousing round of “Two Bawds Went a-Brayin,'” which I wrote using community-based lyric writing. The title is an insult that is hurled during Elizabeth Rex.

The third and final piece of music in the video is a piece of transition music that I wrote for the wedding scenes. It is a more lyrical version of the music I wrote for the masquerade dance that happens toward the top of the show.