By Evie Marcotullio, June 16th 2023.
This season, the University of Western Ontario will be producing the iconic comedy “Much Ado About Nothing” from July 19-23 as a part of their Summer Shakespeare Festival.
The show will be an all-student production.
UWO’s Summer Shakespeare is a longstanding tradition in the London community. It is an outdoor theatre, staged on campus.
The first Western Summer Shakespeare performance took place on 4 August 1981, making it the longest-running ongoing campus, or indeed outdoor, Summer Shakespeare in Canada.
Aleesa Prendergast, Eden Eidt, Izzy Siebert. Photo Nancy Xu
As someone who has been involved in past Summer Shakespeare productions including “Julius Caesar,” I can attest to the elite level of performance produced by Mustangs every summer.
Aside from the jaw dropping performances, the unadulterated fun involved in seeing an outdoor Summer Shakespeare show can not be understated.
“Much Ado About Nothing” explores one lovestruck couple that encounters external obstacles and one realistic couple who battles through internal obstacles using wit and intellect as their weapons.
Following in the footsteps of 2023 Tony Award-winning musicals such as “Some Like it Hot” and “Shucked,” UWO’s “Much Ado About Nothing” utilizes non-binary and female actors for roles typically portrayed by men.
“It’s an incredibly exciting exploration of gender and societal standards,” said the play’s director Alex Rizkallah.
Approaching Shakespeare’s work can be daunting, especially with the Stratford Festival producing the same play. But Rizkallah allows her production to stand out through her fresh and youthful take on a classic comedy.
Cast of Much Ado About Nothing. Photo Nancy Xu
When asked what led to her casting, Rizkallah stated “We have an incredible group of London Ontario talent who are bringing dynamic and fresh approaches to each of these classic characters. I found the perfect individuals for each role as well as a wealth of talented female and gender non-conforming artists. It’s been one of the best choices thus far and I am very proud of the work that we are doing..”
ALex Rizkallah is no stranger to the London theatre scene, having recently assistant-directed “Homes: A Refugee Story” at The Grand Theatre. Additionally, she has directed and performed in multiple shows with Original Kids Theatre Company, various Fringe Festivals, and Theatre Western.
In 90 minutes they will have you laughing, thinking and joining in on a fun that the whole family can take part in.
UWO’s “Much Ado About Nothing” challenges societal standards with a full female/gender non-conforming cast playing the roles as written, in an incredibly exciting exploration of the show’s themes; societal norms, deception and love.
Plus, for $10 you really can’t go wrong!
Western Summer Shakespeare
Much Ado About Nothing
Runs July 18 – 23 at 7pm
Beryl Ivey Gardens
1151 Richmond St, London, ON N6A 3K7