Christopher Merlino as Benedick

Christopher Merlino as Benedick

 
 

Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespeare

Directed by Walter Kmiec

The show’s costumes were designed by Leslie Cook-Day. The lighting and sound designer was John Kiselica. The scenic design was by Krista Franco. The dramaturg was Aaron C. Thomas. The show was stage managed by Sarah Hart.

Written around 1598, this production of Much Ado about Nothing was set in the present day. It was performed outdoors in Michels Plaza on the campus of Randolph College.

 

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Backstage thoughts from Christopher Merlino:
So this is the big scene where Don Pedro, Claudio and Leonato stage a fake conversation for Benedick to eavesdrop on. After hearing how passionately Beatrice yearns for Benedick’s love, he emerges from the water – baptized in love. Aside from making sure that I was wearing boxers every night underneath my pants (because I was not trying to scar people with my upper thighs in a quick change), I had to run backstage, strip off my clothes, put on a robe and head towel, to then sprint behind the audience section and arrive at the next scene. None of which would have been possible without the four-person crew (Emma Paige Cook, Kallen Eckhart, Sophia Ravazi, and Annie Steinmetz) helping me with every button. I had maybe two minutes to get it all done! This show was so fun. I really treated it like it was a two-hour show all about me. The best part for me was when I professed my love for Beatrice through a Def Leppard- style ballad in my white soldier outfit. I hate singing, but once I got over myself it was a blast. After all, if the audience is laughing, I can do anything.


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Backstage thoughts from John Kiselica:
I enjoyed figuring out how to create the water fountains that are soaking Chris in the photo. We ended up buying small pumps and zip-tying them to cinder blocks with a submersible light for each. There were four in total, and this setup was something that we had to strike every night. Since the water fountains were outside we had to skim the fountains each night before the show to make sure that no floating leaves, flowers or bugs would get sucked in to the pump. Cueing for the show took place on a laptop in the common area of Randolph’s Main hall. It was pouring down rain outside during that time we were supposed to cue in the space. With outdoor theatre we can’t turn the sun off, and we are limited on work-time at night, so we make it work with what we have. It added an element of fun not actually being able to see what the lights looked like as we programmed. When show started running, I was also tasked with backing down the Camaro that Chris would drive up into the space. Leslie was kind enough to give me a costume that was a pair of khaki pants and Hawaiian shirt to make me look like a valet. Backing the car down the hill on that sharp curve was a fun task each night.