'Much Ado About Nothing' set for Shakespeare Festival

Macey Madias as Beatrice, with Sean Kelley as Benedick
Macey Madias as Beatrice, with Sean Kelley as Benedick
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The Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival, the oldest in Michigan, celebrates its 20th anniversary of providing arts education and modern yet timeless productions that explore and celebrate Shakespeare.

“Since our start in 1994, the Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival has been providing events and activities that are available and affordable to a diverse and growing population,” said James Bell, festival director since 2005. “We offer stage productions and educational programs and participate in the family-friendly Renaissance Faire held at Grand Valley.”

The main production this year is Shakespeare’s comedy, “Much Ado About Nothing,” opening Friday, September 27, 7:30 p.m. in Louis Armstrong Theatre, Performing Arts Center, Allendale Campus. Performance will be followed by a free, public reception with cash bar in the Pere Marquette Room, Kirkhof Center.

Additional performances at 7:30 p.m. September 28 and October 3-5.
Matinee performances at 2 p.m. September 29 and October 5-6.

Pre-show discussions by Production Dramaturg Jo Miller, Grand Valley professor of English, September 28 and October 4 at 6:45 p.m.

Tickets $14/adults, $12/faculty, staff, alumni, seniors, and $6/all students and groups of 10 or more, are available at the GVSU Louis Armstrong Theatre box office, or by calling (616) 331-2300. For more information visit www.gvsu.edu/theatre.

Written by William Shakespeare in about 1599, this production of “Much Ado About Nothing” is set in the period just as World War I is ending. Soldiers returning home from the reality of war are caught up in the “merry war” of wits between the sexes. The skirmishes in this battle, including two pairs of lovers: Benedick and Beatrice, and Claudio and Hero, may be more playful and more dangerous than anyone expects.

The production will feature guest Actors Equity Association actor Christopher Seiler in the role of Constable Dogberry and local guest actor Gary Mitchell is playing Leonato. Students performing the pair of lovers are Macey Madias as Beatrice, with Sean Kelley as Benedick, and Sarah Tryon as Hero, with Justin Mackey as Claudio.

The production features many Grand Valley alumni working behind the scenes:  director Katherine Mayberry; musical director Scott Lange; choreographer Christian Vigrass; lighting designer Chris Teller; and property mistress Julie Kehr.

Other GVSU Shakespeare Festival events include a free public presentation, “The Five Keys to Understanding Shakespeare,” September 27, 4 p.m., Alumni House, presented by accomplished actor and director Jeff Watkins. Watkins is president and artistic director of the Atlanta Shakespeare Company.

For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit www.gvsu.edu/shakes.