Shakespeare Theatre Company's Much Ado About Nothing Opens Today


The Shakespeare Theatre Company continues its 2011-2012 Season with the return of Ethan McSweeny (The Merchant of Venice, The Persians, Ion, Major Barbara) directing Shakespeare's romantic comedy Much Ado About Nothing. This story of true love and lies comes to life on the Company's Sidney Harman Hall stage (610 F Street NW) from November 25, 2011-January 1, 2012.

A classic tale of matched wits and love, Much Ado About Nothing explores the trials and tribulations of romance. The audience will fall in love and laugh along with this play filled with fun, loveable and devious characters. Everyone can see that Beatrice and Benedick are meant for each other except Beatrice and Benedick. Hero and Claudio, themselves newly betrothed, conspire to trick them into announcing their feelings and falling for each other. Meanwhile, a bitter and troublesome Don John schemes to destroy Claudio and Hero's engagement by besmirching Hero's honor. Touted as "one of the hottest directors to come out of Washington" by The Washingtonian, Ethan McSweeny directs Shakespeare's classic tale.

Much Ado About Nothing is set on a sugar cane plantation in hot and sultry 1930s Cuba. McSweeny was inspired by a previous production of Much Ado directed by his co-artistic director Vivienne Benesch at the Chautauqua Theater Company. He was so taken by the concept that he decided to further exploring the setting. "It's an interesting challenge to return to STC so close on the heels of The Merchant of Venice and with such a different play as Much Ado," says McSweeny. "I don't think anyone would claim that Shakespeare's Sicily and Cuba in the '30s are identical, but if you scratch the surface the parallels ring true: including proximal low level civil conflicts, a society with a strong religious influence, a native sense of machismo, heat, and above all, sexiness. And then there's that great Cuban music and dancing which we will utilize for its maximum celebratory impact."

Some familiar faces will return to the Shakespeare Theatre Company in the lead roles: Veanne Cox as Beatrice and Derek Smith as Benedick. STC Artistic Director Michael Kahn has worked with Cox on multiple occasions and always thought she would be perfect as Beatrice. "I saw Veanne in a show at the Lucille Lortel Theatre several years ago and told her afterwards that I thought Beatrice in Much Ado was the role for her. I'm glad we finally get the chance to see her bring this role to life," says Kahn. McSweeny says of Smith, who recently appeared as Antonio in STC's The Merchant of Venice, "Derek was extraordinary in Merchant; he was the first person to come to mind when I was casting Benedick and I am grateful that he will take this ride with me again."

For tickets and more information, please call 202.547.1122 or visit


Veanne Cox returns to STC to play Beatrice. Cox's STC credits include Michael Kahn's productions of The Way of the World and The Beaux' Stratagem, and Rebecca Bayla Taichman's Twelfth Night. Her Broadway credits include the roles of Mme. Mandragola in A Free Man of Color, Mme. Dindon in La Cage aux Folles, Rose Stopnick Gellman in Caroline, or Change, Yvonne Fouchet in The Dinner Party, Amy in Company (for which she received both Tony and Drama Desk nominations) and Sandra-Kay Macaffee in Smile. Her Off-Broadway credits include performances of Damn Yankees, Paradise Park, Spain, The Wooden Breeks, A Mother, A Daughter, and a Gun (with Olympia Dukakis), House/Garden and Last Easter (Drama Desk Nomination), among many others. Other regional credits include performances with the Kennedy Center, Yale Repertory Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse, Actors Theatre of Louisville and others. Her television appearances include Seinfeld, One Life to Live, Cinderella and many others. Cox has been seen in many films including Erin Brockovich, Marci X, Two Weeks Notice and You've Got Mail.

Derek Smith returns to STC to play Benedick. Last seen as Antonio in The Merchant of Venice, Smith played Romeo in the Shakespeare Theatre Company's first production of Romeo and Juliet in 1986. He also appeared at STC in The School for Scandal, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 and The Doctor's Dilemma. His Broadway credits include The Green Bird for which he received a Tony Award nomination, The Government Inspector, Timon of Athens, Jackie: An American Life, Ring 'Round the Moon, Getting and Spending and Scar in The Lion King. Off-Broadway, Smith has appeared in Sylvia, King John, Dark Rapture, Cruise Control, Ten By Tennessee, The Green Bird and The Witch of Edmonton. Smith has been seen in more than 20 plays regionally and internationally including 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, The Serpent Woman, Hamlet, Misalliance and The Servant of Two Masters at The American Repertory Theatre.

Floyd King will play Verges, immediately following his role as Geronte in STC's season opener, The Heir Apparent. A favorite with D.C. audiences, King has appeared in numerous productions at STC including An Ideal Husband, Richard II, Henry V, As You Like It, Ion, Twelfth Night, The Way of the World, Major Barbara, Tamburlaine, Edward II, All's Well That Ends Well and many others. He has also graced the Studio Theatre stage in several productions including The Seafarer, The History Boys, The Russian National Postal Service, The Lisbon Traviata, A Tale of Two Cities, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and Love, Valor, Compassion. His other D.C. credits include State of the Union at Ford's Theatre, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at Signature Theatre, The Dresser at Folger Theatre and Quills at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. King was an instructor with the Juilliard School from 1992 to 2008 and currently teaches with STC's Academy for Classical Acting at The George Washington University.

Ted Van Griethuysen appears as Dogberry. Van Griethuysen, like King, is also a well known D.C. actor, known by STC audiences for his most recent performances as Cymbeline in Cymbeline, the King of France in All's Well That Ends Well, Mr. Praed in Mrs. Warren's Profession and the Duke of York in Richard II, as well as his roles in Henry V, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Major Barbara, Hamlet, Love's Labor's Lost and many, many more. His impressive theatrical resume includes Inadmissible Evidence on Broadway, for which he received a Drama Desk Award, as well as performances in Romulus and Galileo. Regional credits include Studio Theatre's The Life of Galileo and The Steward of Christendom, both of which earned him Helen Hayes Awards. In addition, he has performed at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Roundabout Theatre Company, Long Wharf Theatre, Hartford Stage and Williamstown Theatre Festival. Van Griethuysen's work extends internationally to London, where he has performed in the title role in The Life of Galileo at Battersea Arts Center, in Broadway in The Shadows at Arcola Theatre and as Mr. Paradise in Lovely and Misfit at Trafalgar Studios. He has taught at both Columbia University and Mount Vernon College.

The cast of Much Ado About Nothing also includes Bev Appleton as Antonio, Colleen Delany as Ursula, Ryan Garbayo as Claudio, Mark Hairston as Borachio, Rachel Spencer Hewitt as Margaret, Kate Hurster as Hero, Lawrence Redmond as Friar Francis, Matthew Saldivar as Don John, Ashley Smith as Conrade, Adrian Sparks as Leonato and David Emerson Toney as Don Pedro and. Other cast members include Aayush Chandan, Carlos J. Gonzalez, James Graham, Michael Gregory, Phil Hosford, Aaryn Kopp, Matthew McGee, Janel Miley, Jacob Perkins and Andrew Wassenich.


Ethan McSweeny grew up in Washington, D.C., and returns to STC to direct Much Ado About Nothing. Previous credits with STC include The Merchant of Venice, Ion, Major Barbara, for which he received a Helen Hayes nomination, and The Persians. He made his New York debut with the Off-Broadway premiere of Never the Sinner (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards) and before the age of 30 directed the Broadway revival of Gore Vidal's The Best Man (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards, Tony Award nomination). His D.C. credits include the world premiere of A Time to Kill at Arena Stage, the original Never the Sinner at Signature Theatre (Helen Hayes nomination) and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at Centerstage (Baltimore City Paper, Best of 2008). He recently directed the world premiere of ReGina Taylor's Trinity River Plays for Dallas Theater Center and the Goodman Theatre and staged a critically acclaimed revival of Les Liaisons Dangereuses for the Stratford Festival in Canada. Of his more than 60 productions of new plays, classics and musicals recent highlights include: the New York premieres of 100 Saints You Should Know for Primary Stages and 1001 for Page 73 (both productions were named among the Top Ten plays of 2007 by Time Out and Entertainment Weekly magazines), the West Coast premiere of Adam Gwon's musical Ordinary Days for South Coast Repertory Theatre, world premieres of In This Corner (San Diego Critics Circle Award) and A Body of Water at The Old Globe and the Guthrie Theater and revivals of A View from the Bridge and Arms and the Man at the Guthrie Theater. He currently serves as co-Artistic Director of the Chautauqua Theatre Company and Treasurer of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and received the first ever undergraduate degree in theatre from Columbia University.


McSweeny has assembled a design team of faces both familiar and new to STC, whose collaboration creates a production that is fresh and artfully fitting to McSweeny's 1930s Cuba setting. Set Designer Lee Savage, Costume Designer Clint Ramos, Lighting Designer Tyler Micoleau and Composer/Sound Designer Steven Cahill create the backdrop for this classic production.


McSweeny is assisted by Choreographer Marcos Santana, Associate Choreographer Alison Solomon, Stage Manager Joseph Smelser and Assistant Stage Manager Elizabeth Clewley. Casting for Much Ado About Nothing is by McCorkle Casting, Ltd. with assistance from STC's Resident Casting Director, Daniel Neville-Rehbehn. Jenny Lord works closely with McSweeny as the Assistant Director.


· WINDOWS - Sunday, November 27 at 5 p.m., The Forum in Sidney Harman Hall
Engage in a lively discussion with local scholars and the artistic staff. Seating is limited and reservations are required.

· DIVINING SHAKESPEARE - Wednesday, December 7 at 5 p.m., The Forum in Sidney Harman Hall
Explore the play's relevance through a theological discussion. Seating is limited and reservations are required.

· CLASSICS IN CONTEXT - Saturday, December 17 at 5 p.m., The Forum in Sidney Harman Hall
Learn about the social and cultural context of our plays during this roundtable discussion. Reservations not required.

ABOUT THE Shakespeare Theatre Company

During the 2011-2012 Season, the Shakespeare Theatre Company is set to celebrate! Not only is it the 25th year of Michael Kahn's leadership, vision and artistic direction but, over the past quarter of a century, STC has become one of the nation's leading theatre companies. Today, STC is synonymous with artistic excellence and making classical theatre more accessible.

The Shakespeare Theatre Company's innovative approach to Shakespeare and other classic playwrights has earned it the reputation as the nation's premier classical theatre company. By focusing on works with profound themes, complex characters and poetic language written by Shakespeare, his contemporaries and the playwrights he influenced, the Company's artistic mission is unique among theatre companies: to present theatre of scope and size in an imaginative, skillful and accessible American style that honors the playwrights' language and intentions while viewing their work through a 21st-century lens.

In its 2007-2008 Season, the company opened the Harman Center for the Arts, consisting of the new 774-seat Sidney Harman Hall and the 451-seat Lansburgh Theatre, both located in downtown Washington's Penn Quarter neighborhood. A dynamic hub of activity, the Harman Center showcases the company as well as outstanding local performing arts groups and nationally renowned organizations. STC's annual Free For All performance, a re-creation of a production from seasons past staged for free in August and September, is now held at Sidney Harman Hall. Sidney Harman Hall is located at 610 F Street NW. The Lansburgh Theatre also plays host to a number of different performing arts organizations and several of STC's mainstage productions. The Lansburgh Theatre is located at 450 7th Street NW.



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