Charleston Alley Theatre to perform Shakespeare’s comedy


Jason Howell

D. Craig Banyai, playing Leonato, hits the head of Marie Jozwiak, playing Hero, during the Charleston Alley Theatre’s rehearsal of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing on Monday. Duke Bagger, the president and executive director of the theatre, describes the play as, “two people in love with one another, constantly fighting, with another couple betrayed by a villian, all ending well.”

Abby Whittington, Entertainment Editor

The Charleston Alley Theatre will be performing William Shakespeare’s comedy, “Much Ado About Nothing,” 7:30 p.m. from May 5-8 at the Mattoon Train Station and from May 12-15 at The Charleston Alley Theatre.

The play will take place in the home and garden of Leonato, the governor of Messina, Italy and is the story of two couples and the bitter brother of a prince.

The first couple, Beatrice and Benedick, does not become involved until the end of the play. The two have a love-hate relationship for most of their lives.

Beatrice, the daughter of a wealthy nobleman and Leonato’s orphaned niece, can be described as feisty, and Benedick, a soldier, is an arrogant bachelor.

The second couple consists of Hero, an innocent and obedient woman, and Claudio, a shy suitor.

Hero and Claudio want to make Beatrice and Benedick act on their love for one another, and they come up with a scheme to make them do so until Don John, the brother of prince Don Pedro, intervenes and works to turn Claudio and Hero against one another.

Duke Bagger, the director of “Much Ado about Nothing,” said the play would end as happily and romantically as Shakespeare had originally written it to be.

“We have done many of (Shakespeare’s) heavier plays. When we do shows like ‘The Scottish Play’ or ‘Richard the Third,’ we wind up having sword fights. (In the Charleston Alley Theatre) with this concrete floor, we can do anything we want, but in Mattoon it’s a whole other animal,” Bagger said. “We thought if we are introducing ourselves with Shakespeare in Mattoon then let’s make it something light, happy and friendly, so I purposely went with one of the comedies.”

Bagger said he thinks it is easier for an audience to sit and appreciate a comedy than it is to watch a more serious play.

“We try to do the show as close as possible to how Shakespeare did it. We will be in period costume and staying as true to the script as possible,” Bagger said. “We do it dirty jokes and all, and we make sure you get the jokes.”

Bagger said keeping a cast has been hard, however, there have been new cast members with and without experience who have shown him their potential.

“I have gotten some young new talent on this stage that have really stood up and shown that they can do this,” Bagger said. “I have preconceptions, and I know essentially how I want people to do things, but I also give them free reign, because who knows, an actor may have a better idea than I do. The best part is seeing (the show) evolve.”

Bagger said “Much Ado About Nothing” would be around two hours in length compared to Shakespeare’s normal five-hour plays.

“I want people to come and have a good time, and you are going to be a part of the show,” Bagger said. “It is sixteenth-century English but you can understand what is going on. It is an intimate affair.”

Tickets for the show will be $10.


Abbey Whittington can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]