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Long Wharf Theatre's Youth Ensemble Presents MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, Now thru 8/24

Long Wharf Theatre's Shake-it-up-Shakespeare Youth Ensemble brings its unique take on the classics to Much Ado About Nothing, performed on Stage II, today, August 21-24.

The play is directed and adapted by Long Wharf Theatre's Director of Education Annie DiMartino, with musical direction by Carol Taubl. Mallory Pellegrino is the stage manager. Performances take place August 21 through 23 at 7 pm and August 24 at 2 pm on Stage II. Tickets are $10.

This is the 5th year of the Shake-It-Up-Shakespeare Youth Ensemble, a program that has become the capstone of Long Wharf Theatre's education program. Performers aged 15-21 come together to train in movement and language, while mounting a fun musical adaptation of William Shakespeare. "This is a tangible demonstration of what happens during workshops in classrooms throughout the year," DiMartino said. "During the production of this play, we offer the highest level of actor training. That training, coupled with the ensemble building and problem solving aspects of the rehearsal process, not only prepares young performers, but are also skills needed in the 21st century workplace."

As in previous years' productions, DiMartino searched for a modern soundtrack that will lend an added dimension to Shakespeare's comic love story. In this instance, DiMartino brings Shakespeare's great 16th century comedy into the neon clad, go-go 1980s, taking the poetry of the Bard's language and juxtaposing it with the tacky and fun pop culture of the time. "One of the things I find very interesting about the play is the title. It asks a question about what we do to waste time. So much of the play is about the missed connections and misinterpretations that could be bred of being distracted," she said.

The soundtrack is a who's who of that decade: Madonna, Roxette, Boy George, The Bangles, Journey, Bryan Adams, Aaron Neville, George Michael, Foreigner, Cyndi Lauper, Billy Joel, Joan Jett, among many other. DiMartino also incorporates from the iconic television and film themes songs into the play, including "MASH", "The Muppet Show", Beverly Hills Cop, Ghostbusters, and others. All of the songs will be performed by the multi-talented actor-musicians on stage. "So many of these famous 1980s films and television shows play into the emotions of the play," she said.

Shake-It-Up-Shakespeare veterans Rachel Skalka and Sam Taubl will play the dueling lovers Beatrice and Benedick. "This is a great cast," DiMartino said. "Not only are we working with performers who have quite a bit of experience performing in Shake-It-Up-Shakespeare, we have a group of newcomers who are so talented and so promising. Working with this group of great young people has been a delight."

The cast includes Chrystina Bonelli of Guilford (Sexton); Morgan Campbell of Westbrook (Watch 1/Dance Captain); Katie Casablanca of Oxford (Chorus); Chloe Chappa of Oxford (Ursula); Megan

Dykhouse of Fairfield (Chorus); Erica Gonsiewski of Hamden (Chorus); Lily Holmes of Sandy Hook (Margaret); Sara Jadbabaie of Woodbridge (Messenger); Natasha Kaluzynski of Bethany (Watch 3); Josie Kulp (Dogberry/Balthazar); Oriana Mack of Woodbridge (Verges/Band Singer); Haley Maruca of North Haven (Leonata); Logan Mogle of Trumbull (Don John); Chad Parker (Friar Francis); Julia Raucci of West Haven (Chorus); Ryan Ronan of West Haven (Borachio); Rachel Skalka of Woodbridge (Beatrice); Mackenzie Stratton of Orange (Antonia); Stephanie Sutton of Woodbridge (Chorus); James Taubl of New Haven (Don Pedro); Jeremiah Taubl of New Haven (Claudio); Sam Taubl of New Haven (Benedick); Ashley Velleco of Ansonia (Conrad); Dawn Williams of Trumbull (Hero); and Mikayla Zeitlin of Guilford (Watch 2.)

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 203-787-4282 or visit

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