Johnnycake kicks off the year with fall play “Much Ado About Nothing”


Adele Wan

“Much Ado About Nothing” premiered on Oct. 14, after weeks of rehearsal and difficulties with Hurricane Nicholas.

Lucy Walker and Elizabeth Hu

The theater lights dim, and the audience falls silent. Dogberry stumbles into view and flails his way through the introduction before the curtains open to reveal Leonato and a messenger. So begins St. John’s rendition of the beloved Shakespeare play, “Much Ado About Nothing.”

“Much Ado About Nothing follows two main couples: Benedick and Beatrice, who are constantly at each other’s throats with witty remarks, and Hero and Claudio, whose relationship is being sabotaged throughout the play by Don John, a scheming knave. An entourage of side characters add humor and whimsy to the story.

Hurricane Nicholas and the subsequent missed school days had stage manager Drew Adams apprehensive in the days leading up to opening night. Although he initially feared that the cast and crew would fall behind schedule, his worries proved to be groundless, and Adams even considered the team to be ahead of schedule.

“The cast really pulled through and I’m proud of each and every one of them,” Adams said a few days before opening night. “I think we would’ve been ready to perform last week.” 

“Much Ado About Nothing,” has emotional significance for senior Owen Paschke, who played Don Pedro. This play was his last show at St. John’s, and now that the play is over, he is focusing on college applications and baseball tryouts. 

“I’ve made tons of friends through theatre,” Paschke said. “The fact that it has come to an end so soon is bittersweet.”  

Junior Noelle Alexander played the role of Beatrice. Due to her father’s love of William Shakespeare, which she inherited, Alexander grew up surrounded by the bard’s works. When Alexander was seven, she made a list of Shakespeare characters she wanted to play—Beatrice was second only to Lady Macbeth. 

“Beatrice has been on my mind for over ten years,” Alexander said. “I’ve done this play many times and have never gotten to play her. I was freaking out when I got the role.” 

With the increase in vaccinations in St. John’s, masks became optional for the actors during this year’s performances, giving the audience more insight to the expressions and emotions of the actors, as well as positively influencing the actors’ execution of the show. While most scenes are back to normal, intimate kissing scenes are still done with masks due to the actors’ close proximity to one another.

“It’s like a whole new world,” Alexander said. “You can see people’s responses and it’s so much more engaging. Getting to take our masks off has been huge for the development of the play.”

Director Kat Cordes has high hopes for the play. She expressed her praise for the actors and technicians for not faltering during the unexpected days off, as well as hopes for the audience’s reaction on the show. 

“If we can shake up even one person’s expectations about Shakespeare, we’ll have done our job,” Cordes said.