Despite the obstacles of the COVID-19 pandemic, Carmel High School theater teacher Maggie Cassidy knows her students needed to have a winter play, and so did she.
“It has been a tumultuous year. There has been a lot of isolation and very little opportunity for artists to showcase their talents,” Cassidy said. “I think producing this play has given the kids something to look forward to, an opportunity to socialize safely and a home outside the one they have been quarantined, too. I love directing theater, and this has been good for my soul, too.”
Cassidy is directing Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” with the setting moved to the 1980s. The play will be performed for family members Feb. 4-5 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 6 at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets to the virtual production can be purchased at carmeldrama.org for 7 p.m. Feb. 12 and 2 and 7 p.m. Feb. 13 and 14. Junior Kaylyn Johnson plays Beatrice in the production.
“Playing Beatrice has been a joy because she is such a complex character,” Johnson said. “On the surface, she is a confident, independent woman whose greatest weapon is her wit, but underneath that facade is a deeper longing to be loved. It’s been great learning to navigate this character, especially with this being my first Shakespeare production, through the old English text of the play, which we hope to communicate to the audience with a more modern time period set in the ‘80s.
“This presents another challenge as we as a cast have learned to marry old English and current culture together in this unique production.”
Junior Jack Sullivan is playing Benedick.
“I’ve always been attuned to Shakespeare. I think (Shakespeare) is a cool dude and ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is this carefree, fun show,” he said. “I think it will be a good show with all the trouble we’ve got going on. I think (Benedick) is also a cool dude and I definitely identify with him on a couple of levels.”
Johnson said the cast has been working in masks and maintaining social distancing.
“But I think I speak for the whole cast and crew when I say that this experience has been a blessing,” she said. “This is the first production many of us have been a part of since the pandemic hit, and although it’s been challenging to maneuver, I think the end product is going to be incredibly rewarding, as is the process of putting it all together.”