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A Little Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing

Marion Huber Theater

By William Shakespeare
Adapted and Directed by Rakesh Palisetty

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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)

WATCH

Director Interview

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PHOTOS

Meet The Artists

The Cast

Jess Ardolina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ELLY O’SCANLON (BORACHIO) is a junior drama major at Red Bank Regional High School. She has trained with Actors Playground and her recent credits include A Streetcar Named Desire, Moby Dick Rehearsed, and Beauty and the Beast.

Dylan Pitanza

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

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.

The Creatives

Director / Adapter

Rakesh Palisetty
Rakesh Palisetty

RAKESH PALISETTY (he/him) ADAPTOR/DIRECTOR is a theater, film, and opera director from New Delhi, India. His shows have been toured extensively across India. Select credits include Kimberly Akimbo Musical (Directing Fellow) at Atlantic Theater, Hedda Gabler at Lenfest Center for the Arts, Thirty Six Questions at Columbia Stages, and Bedtime Plays at The Tank.  He will soon receive his MFA in Directing from Columbia University.

Associate Director / Adaptor

Diana Fathi
Diana Fathi

DIANA FATHI (she/her) ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR/ADAPTOR is a multidisciplinary theater practitioner from Tehran, Iran based in New York City. She has directed Third Person Singular (Columbia University), Ahali-e-Hava (Tehran City Theater), and Foggy Season (The multilingual collaboration between Iran and Georgia). Her recent dramaturgical work includes Glimpse (Rattlestick Theater), Hedda Gabler directed by Rakesh Palisetty (Columbia University), Twelfth Night directed by Kelly O’Donnell (Columbia University), and Loneliness by Greg Nanny (Columbia University). She has won several national and international prizes for acting. Diana received her MFA (Dramaturgy) from Columbia University, M.A. (Philosophy of Art), and B.A. (Dramatic Literature) from Tehran University of Art.

Scenic Designer

Ana Novačić
Ana Novačić

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.

Costume Designer

Lukas Wassman
Lukas Wassman

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.

Lighting Designer

Emma Deane
Emma Deane

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

Sound Designer

Carsen Joenk
Carsen Joenk

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

Properties Designer

Jessica Parks
Jessica Parks

JESSICA PARKS (she/her) PROPERTIES DESIGNER has been working as a properties designer since 2003 and has been the resident scenic designer and prop designer at the NJ Repertory Company in Long Branch since 2010. This her 5th season working with Little Shakes and she is very excited to be a part of this wonderful project and finally back to doing live theatre. NYC credits at 59E59 St. Theaters include: Michael Tucker’s Fern Hill, Butler, The Housewives of Mannheim, Jericho and Poetic License. Other credits include: The End of Hester for the New Light Theatre Project, Brecht: Call & Respond at Paradise Factory Theatre and Dan Lauria’s Dinner with the Boys at The Acorn Theater.

Stage Manager

Emily Todt
Emily Todt

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
Ryan Lindner

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
Isabella Como

ISABELLA COMO (ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER) is a sophomore at East Brunswick Votech in Arts Technology! She so far has been involved in last year’s Freshman Showcase as the assistant costume designer. She also worked on this year’s Winter Music Show and the Winter Dance Show doing sets and crew. She also helped the theater company Applause with their production of Mary Poppins. Currently she is the vice president of her school’s Thespian Society troupe and currently working as a set designer for her school’s production of Romeo and Juliet. She is so excited to work with everyone on Much Ado About Nothing here at Two River Theater!

Assistant Stage Manager / Lighting Assistant

Easy Jack Portman
Easy Jack Portman

EASY JACK PORTMAN (ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER/LIGHTING ASSISTANT) is a freshman at Red Bank Regional High School in the Creative Writing academy. He was recently involved with his school’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire in which he helped build sets, assisted backstage, and worked sound. He also recently had an internship at the Count Basie Center for the Arts where he worked on a virtual production of Alice in Cyberland where he helped create and develop an original logo and digital backgrounds as well as working sound. He has been involved with previous Shakespeare plays in the past too. He performed as Baptista Minola in The Taming of the Shrew at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum out in California. In his free time, he enjoys reading and writing as well as podcasts featuring Nicole Byer. He is absolutely thrilled to be a part of the production of Much Ado About Nothing as a long-time fan of the Little Shakespeare program.

Sound Assistant

Marel Hidalgo
Marel Hidalgo

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.

Costume Assistant

Brooke Norton
Brooke Norton

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.

FULL DETAILS & FAQS

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Dates and tickets

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