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PSU Performance of “Much Ado About Nothing” is Certainly Something

By Mason Masotta; For the Clock
On October 28, 2017

The real magic of a Shakespearean classic does not always come from the words spoken, but in the performance of the actors bringing it to life. With plays that were penned hundreds of years ago, it takes a great amount of dedication and vocational rigor to breathe life into a work by a playwright like William Shakespeare, all while captivating an audience.

Despite the daunting feat, this was absolutely the case in the PSU theatre’s performance of “Much Ado About Nothing,” where the entire ensemble cast shone brightly from October 19 to the 22 in the Silver Center’s Hanaway Theatre.

The play follows the drama of Don Pedro’s companions finding love and confusion in Messina, Italy. Don Pedro’s friend Claudio is a hopeless romantic, while Benedick is only in love with the life of a bachelor. Everyone’s worlds are rocked when an evil plot is put into motion by the Don’s evil brother. What ensues is a hilarious exchange of wit and wordplay, brought to life by a bevy of talented performers.

Two of the show’s main stars are Claudio (played by Sam Boyle) and Hero (played by Carolyn Hart). These two performers create a very real feeling of care and emotion for one another, that drives the main plot of the play. Boyle’s natural “leading man” charisma and Hart’s command of the audience’s respect for her work lay the foundation for a terrific story.

Other show-stealers of the performance were the characters of Benedick and Beatrice. John Rumore’s portrayal of Benedick is a master class in physical humor and vocal wizardry. His comfort on stage, interacting with every piece of set and character imaginable is enthralling, to say the least.

Watching as he, with ease, crawled across an entire row of audience members to “spy” on the happenings of the stage, was a joy worth the ticket price in itself.

Benedick’s counterpart in the story, Beatrice, marvelously portrayed by Valerie Umbro, also owns the theatrical event. Eyes cannot be taken off of this wonderful performer for even a moment as she delivers on laughs in one moment, only to then transition to even deeper emotion, as the show boils up to its climax.

The set pieces and props were expertly designed, with detailed costumes that kept the audience immersed in the fantastical world unfolding onstage.

In a short Q&A with the audience that followed the show, the cast was asked how the process for performing a Shakespearean comedy was different from a tragedy. Valerie Umbro said, “Jessie [the show’s director] gave us more of a playground and freedom. We also did a lot of dictionary work, really trying to unpack the language. My character, Beatrice, had a lot to be discovered that I wouldn’t have found without the ability to play.”

When asked about what their favorite part of the process was, Samantha Leone, who played the character of Ursula, said about the final days of practicing the show, “When we’re in tech week and the set is done, you feel it click, and the costumes come on, and your characters are enhanced by ten. It all comes together once you know everyone, and your own personality comes through.”

This performance by PSU’s theatre program was an unignorably powerful incentive to view their next performance. In late January, they will be debuting their take on the classic musical “Hairspray.” Auditions for this take place November 5- 7.

For info on other events at the Silver Center for the Arts, visit


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