Much like the 1996 film adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet,” the Montevallo Theatre Department took the Shakespeare classic “Much Ado About Nothing” to a more current time period. The director, Assistant Professor Michael Walker, set the classic in the Jazz Age of New Orleans. People who are not familiar with Shakespeare may find placing the setting in a different time period easier to understand. For those who are unfamiliar with the play, it is one of Shakespeare’s many classic comedies in which love interests get confused for one another. A mistaken affair is had along with a fake death, but ends in a beautiful explanation for all that had gone awry with love.
This adaptation had an exceptional cast from impassioned lovers to evil princes with comedic reliefs from “Master of the Watch.” Amazing performances were given from Maliek Van Hoozer-Elliot as the character Benedick and Amber Hayes as the character Dogberry. Van Hoozer-Elliot performed with passion as if he had really felt his emotions towards Beatrice (Hannah Bell), and his sarcastic banter with her made the audience feel as if the “he picks on you because he likes you” stereotype came to life. Throughout the entire show, the audience is blown away with Hayes’ voice with her songs during the transitions between scenes. When we were finally introduced to her character Dogberry in the second act, her comedic relief was much appreciated. With her “drunken” authority and hilarious retelling of the arrests of the “villains,” she makes the show that much more interesting. Ryan Orso as Claudio also pulls at the audience’s heartstrings as the young fool in love.
The set and costumes were both equally breathtaking. Set in the 1940s of New Orleans, you could find elements of Mardi Gras all over the place, from beads in the moss of the gigantic tree branches sprouting from offstage, to the magnificent Mardi Gras ball lighting inside cups painted various colors of greens, purples and golds. The various costumes, especially Hero’s (Emily Perry), were extravagant. Her flawless everyday wear including her flower print swing dress made me want to change my entire wardrobe to that of the ‘40s. Her lace mid-calf length wedding dress complete with hat and veil was a classic, stunning look on her. Beatrice’s (Hannah Bell) costumes were also stunning. Clad in high waisted shorts and pants complete with flowy shirts made her stance on not wanting to get married pair with her costumes.
“Much Ado About Nothing” was an incredible performance from start to finish. With impassioned performances, accurate, extravagant sets and costumes, the audience was sure to enjoy and maybe come back for a second show.