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American Stage

Shakespeare Makes His Return with Much Ado

American Stage logoWilliam Shakespeare is returning to American Stage in St. Petersburg, Florida, after a nine-year absence from its play spaces, with Much Ado About Nothing set in the Florida Keys at the end of World War II.

The last Shakespeare play at the theater was a production of Hamlet more than nine years ago on the company's mainstage. "I am very excited to reintroduce the Bard to our audiences through the intimate setting of our mainstage, where Shakespeare's language, characters, and storytelling can be fully appreciated,” Stephanie Gularte, the company's producing artistic director, said in a company press release. She also is making her American Stage performing debut in the role of Beatrice opposite Brock Vickers as Benedick.

The production, directed by Benjamin T. Ismail, is part of American Stage's "We the People" 2017–2018 season, which also includes Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, Marjorie Prime by Jordan Harrison, The Producers by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, Andrea Lepcio's Strait of Gibralter, and Joshua Harmon's Bad Jews. The season opened in September with The Royale by Marco Ramirez.

“I have always been especially attracted to Shakespeare," Ismail said in the company press release. "There is true magic in finding contemporary resonance and humor in material hundreds of years old. I look forward to be infusing Much Ado with a fresh stylized interpretation of the local pizzazz and nostalgic flair of 1940's Key West. It's shaping up to be a gorgeous show with loads of fun and heart-string tugs.”

The setting, Gularte said, "is a time when gender roles were shifting, with men returning home from war finding women to be much more independent than when they'd left. And the locale of the Keys provides the tropical, military port that is consistent with Shakespeare's backdrop for Much Ado About Nothing.”

Of the 15 cast members, 10 will be making their American Stage debut. In addition to Gularte and Vickers, the cast includes Andrew Vertucci, Michael Raver, Margee Sapowsky, Don Walker, Tato Castillo, Kody Hopkins, Tarilabo Koripamo, and Courtney McLaren.

“One of the most satisfying plays in the canon, Much Ado About Nothing, was selected because of its whimsy, humor, and heart and because it is an excellent introduction to some of Shakespeare's most memorable characters," Gularte said.

November 6, 2017

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