A Little Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing
Now in its ninth season as one of Two River’s most popular programs, A Little Shakespeare introduces the works of Shakespeare to hundreds of youth and adults each year. Through this program, Two River produces a 75-minute abridged version of a Shakespeare play, performed and supported backstage by high school students, and directed and designed by theater professionals.
Tickets: $20 for Adults & $15 for Children 12 and Under (not included in subscription series)
Meet The Artists
JESS ARDOLINA (MARGARET) is excited to be in her first show at Two River Theater. Her recent credits are A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Matchmaker at Middletown High School North. Jess also is the assistant stage manager for North’s production of A Chorus Line and is a member of Middletown High School North’s Arts Academy Theatre Track. Jess currently trains under David J.V. Meenan and was an assistant teacher for the primary musical theatre classes with Axelrod Preforming Arts Academy.
MATTE BLACK (LEONATO) is having much ado in expressing how grateful they are to be making their debut at Two River Theater! He is currently a junior at Rumson-Fair Haven High School. Favorite credits include: Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Brom Bones), Oklahoma! (Jud Fry), Heathers (Heather Duke), and Scrooge (Younger Scrooge).
DARRION BROWN (BENEDICK) is a senior in the MCVTS Theatre Conservatory. His credits include Into the Woods (Prince), Julius Caesar 2.0 (Guide), and Eukiah (Butch). He is grateful for having a talented teacher who can show him the ropes of acting. He is also grateful to be acting around such great people with amazing talent, who can also teach him and critique him. He is looking forward to pursuing a career as an actor. He is very thankful for being blessed by the support of his family and friends. He looks forward to being given an opportunity to learn about acting throughout high school and beyond.
CHEYENNE BUSCH (BEATRICE) is a senior in the MCVTS Theatre Conservatory. Her acting credits include Boardwalk Empire (Kathleen Thompson), Chasing Emily (Emily), Memory of Octavia (Little Octavia), Hard Style (Liesha), Becky’s Xmas Wish (Becky), Julius Caesar 2.0 (Guide), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Ophelia), and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Helena). She would like to thank her family and friends for their love and support.
KEATON DIBENEDETTO (DON PEDRO) is a senior theatre major at Red Bank Regional High School. They’ve worked as stage manager for this past year’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire. They are incredibly excited to make their acting debut with the Little Shakes cast and crew at their side.
JORDYN JAVARUSKI (CONRADE) is beyond excited to be a part of this production of Much Ado About Nothing. Jordyn has been in other shows such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Egeus) at Middletown North, The Matchmaker (Jo Scanlon/Cab Driver) at Middletown North, The Addams Family (Granny Addams) at Bayshore Middle School, and recently A Chorus Line (Bebe Benzenheimer) at Middletown North. Jordyn would like to thank her directors and her fellow cast members for all of the work they put into this show and for all of the help they gave her throughout the production!
JOSEPH MCKENZIE (CLAUDIO) is a senior in the MCVTS Theatre Conservatory. His credits include Into the Woods (Cinderella’s Father) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Theseus/Oberon). He would like to thank his friends and family for supporting him through some of his greatest challenges along with the cast and director for welcoming him in with open arms. He looks forward to his future experiences in shows and getting to know amazing cast members like the ones in this show.
MELODY MEMBRENO (MESSENGER/FRIAR) is excited to be performing in their first production. As a senior at Voyagers Community School, they have decided to finish off their high school years with a blast.
Elly O’Scanlon (PRINCE / DANCE CAPTAIN) is a senior drama major at Red Bank Regional High School. She has trained with Actors Playground and her recent credits include Little Shakes: Much Ado About Nothing and Red Bank Regional Theater Company’s A Streetcar Named Desire.
DYLAN PITANZA (DON JOHN) is a senior in the VPA Drama program at Red Bank Regional HS. He is proud to be in his 3rd Little Shakes production. Other credits include: Romeo in Tiny Shakes: Romeo & Juliet and Sir Toby Belch in A Little Shakespeare: Twelfth Night with Two River Theater; Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire, and Peter in The Diary of Anne Frank with RBRHS. He has also performed as Young York in Richard III with Shakespeare Downtown NYC. He would like to thank his family for their support; Kate, Rakesh & Diana for the opportunity as well as the cast & crew for putting on a great show!
DOMINICK SENA (ANTONIO) is very happy to be performing in his very first production at Two River Theater. Recent credits include Innkeeper for Bobby Cronin’s PsyKidz: A Movie Musical with the Professional Performance Prep, and professional voiceovers for Instagram, Twinnings Tea and PlayMonster. Dominick is a second year Drama major at Red Bank Regional High School, Visual and Performing Arts Academy. He would like to thank his acting teacher Theresa Pittius and his Mom, Dad and brother Luke for always supporting him.
Campbell Jane Smith
CAMPBELL JANE SMITH (HERO) is excited to be making her debut at Two River Theater. Previously, she played Young Elsa in Count Basie’s Production of Frozen Jr. in Red Bank, NJ. She also played Annie in the ENSPiRiTED Project Company’s production of Annie Jr. at St. Rose of Lima in Freehold, NJ. She is a student at Actors Playground in Freehold, NJ. She currently attends Howell High School in their FPAC Acting Program as a 9th grader.
Director / Adapter
RAKESH PALISETTY (he/him) is a writer-director for theater, film, and opera based in New York. Originally from New Delhi, he completed his MFA in Theatre Directing at Columbia University in 2022. Prior to moving to the US, his productions toured extensively across India, including his hit theatrical adaptation of Twelve Angry Men, which has garnered a cult following. His eclectic portfolio of work draws heavily from post-modernist plays, and seeks to challenge our understanding of classic texts. Since the very beginning of his theater career, he has possessed a deep connection to work that challenges the status quo, and focuses on reimagining classics. His recent directing credits include Hedda Gabler (Lenfest Center for the Arts), Much Ado About Nothing (Two River Theater, A Little Shakespeare program), Sky of Darkness (Theatrelab), Thirty Six Questions (Columbia Stages), and Bedtime Plays (The Tank). His Assistant Directing credits include Misty (Dir: Omar Elerian,The Shed), Galileo (Dir: Michael Mayer, Workshop Production) Kimberly Akimbo (Directing Fellow, Atlantic Theater Company). He has also worked with directors like Ivo van Hove and Thomas Ostermeier.
Associate Director / Adaptor
Diana M. Fathi
Diana M. Fathi (ADAPTOR/DIRECTOR) she/her, is a multidisciplinary theater practitioner from Tehran based in California. Some of her recent directing credits are Thirteen (Odyssey Theater) Third Person Singular (Columbia University). Her recent dramaturgical credits include Glimpse (Rattlestick Theater), Hedda Gabler (Columbia University), and Loneliness (Columbia University). Diana received her BA and MA from Tehran Art University, her MFA from Columbia University, and is continuing her studies towards a PhD in Theater and Drama at UCI/UCSD.
ANA NOVAČIĆ (she/her) SCENIC DESIGNER is a Set and Production Designer based in New York. Originally from Yugoslavia, Ana has lived in several countries, including China, Cyprus, Sweden, and Ireland. She trained at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan, and completed her MFA in Production Design at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Ana is interested in projects centering on the human condition and the relationship between an individual and society. Her design process is rooted in the value of research, as she believes the aesthetic of any film or play is painted by the characters’ psychological realm and identity. She is also a published poet and artist, and draws inspiration for her scenic work from a myriad of visual forms. Recent film and theatre credits include Svadba (Boston Lyric Opera), Dwelling (Loosysmokes), Homebody (dir. Shruti Parekh), and Chiqui (One Love Picture Classics). Ana is a Shubert Scholar and a member of the Irish Society of Stage and Screen Designers.
LUKAS WASSMAN (he/him) COSTUME DESIGNER received his BFA at the HAW Hamburg, Germany in 2017 and his MFA in 2021 at NYU Tisch, chair Susan Hilferty. Before studying abroad in 2016 at the California State University Long Beach, Lukas assisted in Moscow, Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna, Zurich, and Salzburg in opera, musical, and film. He worked as a costume and scenic designer in California, Luxembourg and in Hamburg, Berlin, and in Chemnitz, Germany where he designed costumes for My Fair Lady, costumes & set for Viktoria & her Hussar, both directed by Erik Petersen. In New York he recently designed Echo in a Diner (by Evie Mason) and Indian Summer, both directed by Jacob Sexton with whom he currently works on set and costumes for This Hair I Tear is Mine. With Rakesh Palisetty he worked on Hedda Gabler and currently Much Ado about Nothing here at Two River Theater.
EMMA DEANE (she/her) (LIGHTING DESIGNER) is an Indigenous lighting designer based out of NYC and a citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation. Recent credits include In the Southern Breeze (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater), Manahatta (Yale Repertory Theatre), and Jeremy O. Harris’ YELL: A “DOCUMENTARY” OF MY TIME HERE. Other credits include Reykjavík, Trouble in Mind, shakespeare’s as u like it and Romeo and Juliet (Yale School of Drama); Little Boy/Little Man, Burn Book, The Light Fantastic, This Sweet Affliction, Mud, The Guadalupes, WOLF/ALICE and Camille: A Tearjerker (Yale Cabaret); Tiny Beautiful Things (TheatreSquared); The Adventures of Robin Hood, Pinocchio: A Folk Musical & Fog Island (Filament Theatre); The Amish Project, Still (Interrobang Theatre Project); Hitler on the Roof, Hand in Hand & Nothing of Me (Akvavit Theatre); Scarcity, The Seedbed (Redtwist Theatre); The Woman in Black (Wildclaw); Buddy Cop 2 (Pavement Group); and associate lighting design on Dreaming Zenzile (St. Louis Rep); and The Nutcracker (The House Theater). Additional credits include work with The Fisher Center at Bard, Court Theatre, The Goodman, Albany Park Theater Project, Steppenwolf Theater Company, Northlight Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Victory Gardens, Shakespeare Academy at Stratford, The Actors Gymnasium, and The Gannon Center for Women and Leadership. She holds a MFA in Stage Design from Yale School of Drama. emmadeane.com
CARSEN JOENK (she/her) SOUND DESIGNER is a director and sound designer interested in work that uses non-hierarchical methods of collaboration to create equitable, ensemble-driven processes. She is the co-artistic director of Rat Queen Theatre Company, a resident artist with New Light Theater Project, and a 2020-2022 Roundabout Emerging Directors Group member. Carsen was the 19/20 Wingspace Theatrical Design Directing Mentee, a NAMT 2018 Directing Observer, and a 2018-2019 resident artist at Access Theatre. Select Sound Design: Made by God (Irish Rep), The Mountaintop (Weston Playhouse), Fiction. (600 Highwaymen), and Best Life (JACK). www.carsen-joenk.com
JESSICA PARKS (she/her) has been working as a scenic designer for theater since 2003, and has been the resident scenic designer and prop designer for the New Jersey Repertory Company since 2010. She has worked as the prop supervisor for the Little Shakes program in the past and is very excited to have the opportunity to work with this wonderful program as a designer. Set designs in NYC include: Michael Tucker’s Fern Hill, Butler, The Housewives of Mannheim, Jericho and Poetic License at 59E59 St. Theaters. This is Not a Time for Peace, The End of Hester and Dan Lauria’s Dinner with the Boys at Theater Row on 42nd St. Other designs include: A Tailor Near Me, The Hummingbirds, Eden Prairie 1971, Memoirs of a Forgotten Man, Wolf at the Door, The Jag, Swimming at the Ritz, Happy and Broomstick at the New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch.
EMILY TODT (she/her) STAGE MANAGER is a native Missouri theatrical artist with an MFA in Stage Management and a BFA in Design & Technical Theatre. Emily focuses on work that allows her to collaborate with other artists to create art that instills awe and inspires deep emotion. She has previously worked with Rakesh on Hedda Gabler, Richard III, and The Cherry Orchard. Outside of the theatre you can find her searching for the world’s best mac and cheese. Thanks and love to Rakesh, the Fam, Ryan, and JEES. @emtodt
Directing Assistant / Swing
RYAN LINDNER (DIRECTING ASSISTANT/SWING) is so excited to be a part of Little Shakespeare for her third and final year! She is a senior at Middletown High School South, where she is a Stage Manager. She has worked on both A Little Shakespeare: Macbeth and Twelfth Night. She has spent so long at Two River Theater, and could not leave without doing one more show! She’d like to thank her family, friends, and the cast and crew of Much Ado About Nothing.
Assistant Stage Manager
Isabella Como (ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER) is a junior at East Brunswick Magnet School in Arts Technology. She has done quite a few shows since being in high school. Some of which include last year’s Little Shakes production of Much Ado About Nothing and her school’s production of Romeo and Juliet. She is excited to be back at Two River Theater for the second year in a row.
Assistant Stage Manager / Lighting Assistant
Easy Jack Portman
Easy Jack Portman (ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER) is a sophomore at Red Bank Regional High School and in the creative writing academy. This is his second time working as the Assistant Stage Manager for the Little Shakespeare program, as well as being the Lighting Assistant, and is thrilled to be participating again this time. Before this, he worked on his school’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire where he helped build sets and work lights. He has experience with Shakespeare from performing in The Taming of the Shrew at the Will Gear Theatricum Botanicum. He is so excited to be working with this team again and can’t wait to see how the show turns out!
MAREL HIDALGO (SOUND ASSISTANT) is a 13-year-old musician who has been playing since he was four. He has played all over the U.S. in cities such as Denver, Cleveland, New York, and Philadelphia and many other locations. Marel can play multiple instruments such as the guitar, banjo, and piano. He has appeared on National and Local TV multiple times, as well in multiple newspapers.
BROOKE NORTON (COSTUME ASSISTANT) is thrilled to be involved in her first production of Two River Theater’s A Little Shakespeare program after previously participating in Summer Intensives. Theatre is a big part of her life, having broad experience both on and off stage including: Middletown High School North’s productions of A Chorus Line (Run/Build Crew) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Costume/Hair/Makeup); MHSN Theater Ensemble’s productions of Glass Menagerie (Costume Design) and Into The Woods (Florinda, Granny, and Cinderella’s Mom); and Thorne Middle School’s productions of Willy Wonka Jr. (Mrs Teevee) and Shrek the Musical (Ensemble). Brooke would like to thank Kate, and the entire cast and crew of Much Ado About Nothing for this opportunity.
HEALTH & SAFETY INFORMATION
The safety of our patrons, staff and artists is our number one priority. As such, all audience members over the age of five will be required to show proof of a full COVID-19 vaccination and wear masks while inside the theater building. Exceptions are only made for patrons eating and/or drinking in designated areas within one hour prior to showtime or for special events.