Riverland Theatre celebrates 400 years of Shakespeare with romantic comedy Much Ado About Nothing

Credits: James Douglass

Release Date: February 12, 2016

Categories: Media Release

Riverland Community College Theatre department will be celebrating the 400thanniversary of William Shakespeare’s death by presenting one of his most beloved comedies,Much Ado About Nothing.

This is a very contemporary staging of one of the most popular and charming of Shakespeare’s comedies, complete with tablets, cellphones and selfies. Much Ado About Nothing features the original “battle of the sexes” couple: Benedick, an arrogant and confirmed bachelor, and Beatrice, his favorite sparring partner. While Beatrice and Benedick hide their infatuation beneath witty barbs, young love blossoms as Hero and Claudio race to the altar. When the wicked Don John conspires to break up the wedding, will false accusations and misunderstandings prevent the young couple’s happy ending? Witty wordplay, passionate poetry, and clever plot twists make this the perfect romantic evening. Much Ado About Nothing is suggested for ages 10 and up.


Riverland Theatre faculty member Susan V. Hansen directs Much Ado About Nothing. The set and lighting designer is Mark Spitzer. The costumes are by Carley Carranza and Jennifer Wiebrand. The production is stage managed by Claire Olson. Much Ado About Nothing features two original songs, “Sigh No More” and “Heavily, Heavily” with music written by Peter Jacobs and using Shakespeare’s lyrics. The production is dedicated to the memory of Derek Bute.

“[This year] 2016 marks 400 years since Shakespeare’s death, and so it seemed an appropriate time to celebrate his work,” said Riverland Theatre director Lindsey Duoos Williams. “The show’s director, Susan V. Hansen, chose to set the play in modern times, using cell phones and current pop music. I often hear from students that they are intimidated by seeing Shakespeare plays, but this production of Much Ado About Nothing will be very relatable and accessible to today’s audiences.”

The cast of Much Ado About Nothing includes Jake Berndt as Dogberry, Jodie Bratager as Ursula, Jennifer Bute as Beatrice, Kayla Byram as Seacoal, Livia Dyke as Messenger/Oatcake, Austin Hodnefield as Don Pedro, Dathen Johnson as Borachio, Ashley Kasper as Sexton, Kaitlyn Larson as Margaret, Garrin Loveland as Don John, Jacob Mueller as Count Claudio, Cole Peterson as Conrade, Kristy Possin as Hero, Mark Spitzer as Antonio, Bry Thorson as Friar Francis, Vic Wylde as Signior Benedick, Danny Ziebell as Verges, and James Zschunke as Leonato.

Much Ado About Nothing will be performed Feb. 24, 25, 26, and 27 at 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. at the Frank W. Bridges Theatre.

Individual tickets to Much Ado About Nothing are $13 and currently on sale at www.riverland.edu/tickets 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The online ticketing system allows customers to choose their seats and pay by Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover. Tickets may also be purchased at the Riverland Box Office, located in room E107 in the East Building of the Austin campus. Box office hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and one hour before performances. Riverland students receive two free tickets to each performance with a valid student ID. Contact the box office at 507-433-0595 or by emailing boxoffice@riverland.edu.

Much Ado About Nothing is suggested for ages 10 and up.

Riverland Theatre strives to provide quality productions that are entertaining and challenging to both the audience and the artists. Because we reach such a diverse audience, some audience members may find some subject matter, language, or situations objectionable. If you have concerns about a specific production, we encourage you to become familiar with the material before attending the performance.

Riverland’s Theatre Department is a high-energy performance-oriented program. Plays produced vary from classical tragedy to modern comedy and from full-scale large cast musicals in intimate small cast plays. Students are encouraged to get involved in all areas of theatre production including, but not limited to, acting, stage managing, set building and painting. Strong academic offerings provide challenges in and out of the classroom.