Graphic image of a woman in silhouette wearing glasses, an army helmet and long purple hair

Much Ado About Nothing

Written by

William Shakespeare

Directed by Deric McNish


Stage Manager: Cora Large
Scenic Design: Gabriela Castillo*
Costume Design: Emily Rosolowski
Sound Design: Lilian Meyers*
Lighting Design: Lauren Spiegel
Props Design: Ariana Moreno
Dramaturg: Basil Rae
Intimacy Director: Alexis Black
Fight Director: Alexis Black
Composer: Ryan Scott Long*
Choreographer: Natalie Palencik
Assistant Director: Basil Rae
Assistant Stage Manager: Bee Rose
Assistant Stage Manager:
Jackson Cosme-Brooks
Assistant Stage Manager: Kate Shaffer
Assistant Sound Designer: Cristian Estrada
Assistant Lighting Designer: Tia Spicer
Assistant Props Designer: Shirell Clark
Assistant Intimacy Director:
Mona Eldahshoury*
Fight Captain:
Gabriel Blaze
Charge Artist: Gabriela Castillo*


Meleah Acuff^: Hugh Oatcake, Soldier
Olivia Bath: Balthasar, Verges
Emilie Burkhart: Ursula
Bobby Conlan: Claudio
Brooke Cousins**: Sexton
Cayla Hadaway: Hero
Gabriel Blaze: Borachio, Messenger
Henry J: Benedick
River LaLonde: DG
Preston Lyford+: Conrade, Soldier
Kim Seabright Martin*: Leonata
Karam Mawazini++: Friar Francis
Natalie Palencik: Margaret
Oscar Quiroz*: Don Pedro
Samantha Stanton>: Basil Latrine, Innogen
Jacob Theo Squire*: Dogberry, Soldier
Apollo St. Pierre: Antonio, George Seacoal
Cassidy Williams: U/S DG
Rileigh Belle Wine: Beatrice

*denotes Master of Fine Arts Candidate

^Understudy Ursula
**Understudy Hero and Margaret
+Understudy Claudio
++Understudy Dogberry and Messenger
> Understudy Beatrice


Welcome to MSU’s interpretation of Messina, a community within a bustling 1970s mobile military hospital. We crafted this setting to emphasize the theme of healing while exploring a world where the relentless specter of war adds urgency, allowing this play’s soaring comedy and sinister plots to live side-by-side. Juxtaposing the drums of war with disco beats evokes a transitional time where we can harness the tension between tradition and modernity, conflict and camaraderie. At its core, this play is about the complexities of the human heart, celebrating its glorious contradictions and unyielding capacity for transformation.

-Deric McNish


Much Ado About Nothing, one of Shakespeare’s many plays that straddles the line between comedy and tragedy, tells stories of the human condition through light-hearted love romps, villainous plotting, and pure heartbreak in the face of love. We as an audience are presented with a fundamental question: what are humans willing to do for love, for revenge, for truth, and for forgiveness? This production, modernized into a 1970s wartime hospital, inspired by the hit television show M*A*S*H, explores all of these.

Shakespeare, more often than not, provides many questions and few answers, allowing for a lot of room for interpretation. In that spirit of interpretation, this production has highlighted themes of female empowerment, human connection, and the way Shakespeare uses comedy to hide a deeper message. This is not a modernization of the same Much Ado About Nothing story told all over the world, instead it is best looked at as a new production entirely. While using much of the original text, the director has created something that feels just close enough to be familiar to the avid Shakespeare fan, while also being different enough to have the new play feel around it. Beloved characters from the original production will take on new life as Don John has become DG, a non-binary ruler living in a gendered world, and Leonato is now Leonata, the loving yet sometimes overbearing mother of Hero. Through this, Michigan State’s Much Ado About Nothing is an experiment in power, in social status, and in comradery.

-Basil Rae (she/her & they/them)


Thank you to Erik Trabka.


2 hours including a 10 minute intermission.


Wishing you had the playlist for this production? Your wish is granted!


Department of Theatre Chairperson
Dr. Stephen Di Benedetto
Production Manager
Abbie Tykocki
Deric McNish
Department Technical Director
DJ Selmeyer
Production Technical Director
Marc White
Costume Shop Supervisor
Angie Wendelberger
Scene Shop Manager
Levi Galloway
Head Carpenter
Marc White
Fiscal Officer
Sara Allison
Office Operations
Kath Clark
Master Electrician
LMA Grads
Lighting Board Operator
Anna Yarnal
Sound Board Operator
Ben Corsi
Deck Crew Head
Nicole Merchant
Costume Crew Head
Kat Poon
House Manager
Abby Mullen
Rachel Kramer, Advait Rathi, Lauren Spiegel
Promotional Photography
Harley Cook
Production Photography
Raymond L. Black Photography

Costume Shop
Cailee Bywater, Kessler Jones, Katherin “Kat” Poon, Ray Louise Sunshine, Emily Rosolowski, Evie Shadoff

Scene Shop Employees and Students
Thalia Lara, Gabriela Castillo, B Beethem, Erin Riley, Nicole Merchant, Christophe Straub, Kyle Konopaska, Julie Clampitt,
QueenMakeeda Taylor, Emma Jestila.

Scenic Painters
Scene Shop Employees and Students: Thalia Lara, Erin Riley, Julie Clampitt, Emma Jestila.

Stage Crew
Madeline Nguyen, AJ Turnell, Nathan Zarkowsky, THR 111 Students


Stage Management:  Tina M. Newhauser
Costume Design:  Karen Kangas-Preston
Scenic Design:  Ranae Selmeyer
Scenic Art:  Ranae Selmeyer
Sound Design:  Lucas Nunn
Lighting Design:  Shannon Schweitzer
Dramaturgy:  Dr. Dan Smith
Intimacy Direction: Alexis Black
Publicity:  Abbie Tykocki


MELEAH ACUFF (Hugh Oatcake/Soldier/Messenger/U/S Ursula) West Bloomfield, MI; Senior, BFA Acting for Stage Screen and New Media/Musical Theater Minor. Meleah was last seen leading MSU’s production of Charlotte’s Web as Chorus, For The Love Of (Or The Roller Derby Play) as Joy, and Head Over Heels as Mopsa.  She would like to thank God and her family for always having her back. @meleahacuff

OLIVIA BATH (Balthasar/Verges) Berkley, MI; Junior, BFA Acting/Communications, Musical Theatre Minor. Olivia was recently seen in MSU’s Summer Circle Productions, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Helena) and Schoolhouse Rock Live (Shulie). She has also been seen in Charlotte’s Web (Lamb), The Rocky Horror Show (Eddie), and In Emily’s Words (Anne). Olivia is so grateful to be performing again at MSU and is incredibly thankful for the support from her friends and family.

GABRIEL BLAZE (Borachio/Messenger) Jenison, MI; Senior BFA Acting, MT Minor. Recent past productions at MSU include Sweat (Stan), Hatful of Rain (Chuch), and Mounier D’eon is a Woman (Broglie/Rousseau). He’s very excited to be in his first Shakespear show, something he has been looking forward to for years. When he’s not at rehearsal or in class there is a good chance he’s watching a movie he’s already seen five times or playing Mario. He would like to thank his parents and sister for their continued support.

EMILIE BURKHART (Ursula) Mount Pleasant, MI; Junior BFA Acting, MT Minor. Emilie has been seen in recent productions of MSU Department of Theatre such as Bright Star (Ensemble), In Emily’s Words (Ensemble), and Monsieur d’Eon is a Woman (Vergy/Pompadour). They are very excited to be a part of their first Shakespeare show and can’t wait to share this beautiful story. Emilie would like to thank their parents, Jim and Sarah; their sister, Lily; their boyfriend, Corbin, for their undying love and support; and director, Deric McNish for giving them the opportunity to do what they love and for being a great mentor. Enjoy The Show!

GABRIELA CASTILLO (Scenic Design) Columbia, MD; Third-year MFA Design candidate focused in scenic design. Previously she designed Sweat(scenery), Corktown(costumes) and Head over Heels(scenery) at MSU, and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill(scenery) and Figaro(scenery) at Hope Summer Rep Theatre where she also held the position of Properties Supervisor in 2022. Prior to seeking her MFA she worked as a deck chief and run crew for Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Columbia, MD for five years.

BOBBY CONLAN (Claudio) Grosse Pointe Farms, MI; Senior, BFA Acting. You may have seen Bobby in previous productions such as Brightstar (Daddy Cane/ensemble), Rocky Horror Show (Rocky) and many others. Bobby is very excited to be acting again this semester and has learned a lot in his first Shakespeare production. He would like to thank his family for always supporting him, his partner Bunni for being the cutest, and his friends for

JACKSON COSME-BROOKS (Assistant Stage Manager) Holt, MI; Second-year BFA Stage Management, Arts and Cultural Management Minor, Honors College. He is so excited for his first Department of Theatre production! Recently, he has worked with Gardner Elementary School on Aladdin Kids (Assistant Technical Director/Spotlight Operator) Second Stage Productions on Solace (Assistant Stage Manager), Roial Players on Uncensored (Lighting Designer/Board Operator), and MSU Orchesis on Nexus (Lighting Designer).

BROOKE COUSINS (Sexton/US to Hero and Margaret) Clarkston, MI; Sophomore, BFA Acting/BA English, Musical Theatre Minor. Past productions at MSU include The Rocky Horror Show (Narrator/Swing) and Solace (Beth/Waitress). Brooke would like to thank her parents, Alex, friends, cast, and crew for their never-ending love and support. She couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work on her first Shakespeare show with!

CAYLA HADAWAY (Hero) St. Joseph, MI; Junior BFA Acting. She is excited to be a part of her first Shakespearean show and give her love and thanks to the cast and crew. Past productions with the MSU THR include Charlotte’s Web (Fern), Second Stage Production’s Solace (Emma), and Corktown (Cop 3). She has also been seen in the Young Playwrights Festival (2022-23) at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts. Cayla would love to thank her best friends and family for all the love and never ending support.

HENRY J (Benedick) Brighton, MI; Senior BFA Acting, ACM Minor. He is excited to be in another Shakespeare show after Precious Winners All (ensemble) last semester. Before then, he could be seen in a touring children’s show What If Wilhelmina (Dump truck/Alien) and in the Fall Storefront Production of Hatful of Rain (Mother). Off the stage, Henry was recently at the Atlanta Film Festival for the premiere of True Love Waits (Cameron). He would like to thank his parents and his partner for the countless support over the years.

RIVER LALONDE (DG) Traverse City, MI; Senior BFA Actor. Previously seen at haunting at The Panic Haunted Experience, MSU Second Stage Productions in Solace (Ensemble), Seeds of Corruption (Francis), and The Shakespeare Immersion Project’s King Lear (Lear). River sends her thanks to the cast and crew for this wonderful opportunity. @rivglalo

CORA LARGE (Stage Manager) Novi, MI; Senior BFA Stage Management, Arts & Cultural Management and Japanese Minor, focus in acting. Cora is so excited to be stage managing her first and last mainstage with the DOT. Her most recent work was in the NML Rocky Mountain High (ASM), touring with the children’s theater show What If Wilhelmina (ASM, violinist, Wilhelmina), and last semester’s Precious Winners All (SM). She would like to thank her family and boyfriend for their unending support. Enjoy the show!

PRESTON LYFORD (Conrade and U/S Claudio) Kalamazoo, MI; 2nd year BFA Acting. Recent work includes Bright star (EM1), Robin Hood: The Golden Arrow (Much), Out of Sight (Stephen), Just Sally (Brad), and currently in The STEAM Plays (Elliot). Preston is excited to be in another MSU THR production, and his first ever Shakespeare play. He would like to thank Deric McNish, Cora Large, and the rest of the cast and crew. He would also like to give a continued thanks to his family, friends, partner, and manager for the continued support.

KIM SEABRIGHT MARTIN (Leonata) Cleveland, OH; Third-year MFA Acting candidate. Past productions at MSU THR include Charlotte’s Web (Old Sheep), Corktown (Ellen), The Impracticality of Modern-Day Mastodons (Delores), The Whirligig (Trish), and Wendy and the Neckbeards (Mama, KBQ). Previously seen at Summer Circle 2022 in Pippin (Berthe), Distracted (Mama), and The Play That Goes Wrong (Chris). Ever thanks to her family, friends, mentors, and the MFA cohort.

LILIAN MEYERS (Lighting Designer) Greenwood, IN; Second Year Lighting Design MFA Canidate. Recent designs include Bright Star (MSU), For the Love Of (MSU), Something Rotten (Wagon Wheel), and Monsieur d’Eon is a Woman (MSU). She would like to thank her friends, her family, and Taylor Swifts’ reputation album for supporting her during this process.

ARIANA MORENO (Props Designer) Lansing, MI; Senior BFA Design Concentration. She has previously worked on Sweat (Props Designer), Charlotte’s Web (Scenic Assistant), Summer Circle 2023, Falstaff (Paint Charger) and Corktown (Props Assistant). She has enjoyed her time at MSU as this is her last project as a college student. She would like to thank Ranae Selmeyer for all her help through every production. She also would like to thank her family and friends who support her designs at MSU.

NATALIE PALENCIK (Margaret) Belleville, MI; Junior BFA Acting/Psychology. Natalie is ecstatic to be a part of her first mainstage production with MSU THR! Natalie can also be seen in The STEAM Plays (Marie and many others) later this season. When Natalie is not working in the department, she can be found Polish dancing with her brothers AND father all over Michigan, and internationally in Poland. Natalie would like to thank her family and friends for all the unconditional love and support.

OSCAR QUIROZ (Don Pedro) Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Third-year MFA Acting candidate. Recent credits at MSU THR include The Gentleman Caller (Tenn), Bright Star (Ensemble) A Hatful of Rain (Johnny), Hit the Wall (Tano), The Whirligig (Derick/Patrick) and, The Penelopiad (Odysseus). He also has appeared in Summer Circle Theatre´s A Midsummer Night´s Dream (Lysander), Pippin (Lewis, Ensemble), Distracted (Dr. Zavala) and The Play that Goes Wrong (Dennis). He is particularly proud of having directed the world premiere of Love is the Greater Labyrinth this fall at MSU. He is always grateful for his amazing mentors and MFA classmates.

BASIL RAE (Assistant Director and Dramaturg) Mio, MI; Senior BA Theatre, Political Science-Prelaw, and Professional and Public Writing. She is so excited to work on a great show with great people as her final Fall show at MSU. She’s previously been seen as a part of In Emily’s Words (Assistant Director and Dramaturg), Sweat (Dramaturg), Corktown (Dramaturg), and The Rocky Horror Show (Assistant Director). She wants to thank her fiancé Bee for helping her find her love of theatre again.

BEE ROSE (Assistant Stage Manager) Portage, MI; Senior BFA Stage Management, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Sexuality Studies minor. They are thrilled to be back as an ASM for the Department of Theatre. They’ve previously been seen as a part of Solace (Production Assistant), Impetus (Lighting Design and Light Board Op), and Charlotte’s Web (Rehearsal Assistant Stage Manager). They want to thank their fiancée (!!!) Basil for her never-wavering support.

EMILY ROSOLOWSKI (Costume Design) Chelsea, MI; Senior BFA Design in Costume Design. Her most recent designs include Strange Happenings…(SFX Makeup), SOLACE (Costume), Charlotte’s Web (Asst. Costume). She is thankful for the opportunity to design M.A.A.N and wants to thank Karen and Angie for all of their tough love and support, as well as the costume shop team for making her designs happen. Also, a special thanks to her family and friends who support her dreams.

KATE SHAFFER (Assistant Stage Manager) Bloomfield Hills, MI; Sophomore BFA Stage Management, BA Marketing. Kate is so excited to be working as an ASM with the Department of Theatre for the first time. Her previous shows with MSU include Young Playwright Festival (Stage Manager), Orchesis: Nexus (Lighting Designer), and Brightstar (Costume Crew). She wants to give special thanks to her stage management team for always being supportive and working as a team.

TIA SPICER (Assistant Lighting Design) Northville, MI; Junior, BFA Stage Management, Arts & Cultural Management Minor. Tia’s most recent projects include Clue (Assistant Stage Manager), and Charlotte’s Web (Assistant Stage Manager), as well as Second Stage Production’s Solace (Production Stage Manager) and Glass Menagerie (Assistant Lighting Design). They would like to thank their family and friends for their never-ending support.

JACOB THEO SQUIRE (Dogberry/Soldier) West Valley City, UT; Year, MFA Acting Candidate. Past MSU productions include Bright Star, Monsieur d’Eon is a Woman, and Particle. He directed MSU’s production of A Hatful of Rain and has done fight direction for various MSU shows as well as theatres in Utah, Montana, and Michigan. Jacob would like to send his gratitude to the directing team for their guidance and leadership. A special shoutout to his wife and son for their constant support.

APOLLO ST. PIERRE (Antonio and George Seacoal) Grand Rapids, MI; Sophomore BFA Acting. With this being his very first performance ever, he is absolutely stoked to hit the stage running.

SAMANTHA STANTON (Basil/Innogen/US to Beatrice) Lansing, MI; Senior, BA Theatre. Samantha’s past productions at MSU include Solace (Quinn), Charlotte’s Web (Narrator), and Corktown (Teach for America Girl). She is excited for everyone to see this show, and she would like to thank the cast and crew for their hard work throughout this process!

LAUREN SPIEGEL (Lighting Design) Bloomfield Hills, MI; Senior, BFA Design (Lighting Focus), BFA Graphic Design double major. Her most recent designs include Charlotte’s Web (Lighting), For the Love of (Asst. Lighting), and Head over Heels (Asst. Lighting), and Back to the 80’s (Lighting). She is thrilled for the opportunity to be a designer on this show and would like to thank her friends and family for all their love and support!

CASSIDY WILLIAMS (Understudy DG) Eaton Rapids, MI; Second year BFA Actor. Cassidy is thrilled to be part of this production as DG Understudy. They have been part of Unscripted 2022 and are performing in The STEAM Plays, an educational children’s theatre show written by faculty member Rob Roznowski. Being able to contribute to such a unique production of Much Ado About Nothing is an honor and joy.

RILEIGH BELLE WINE (Beatrice) Stevensville, MI; Sophomore BFA Acting/Digital Storytelling. This will be Rileigh’s second mainstage performance at MSU, her first being the MSU Unscripted improv show last fall. Rileigh is thrilled to once again be working on her favorite Shakespeare show, as she previously performed in The GhostLight Theatre’s production of Much Ado About Nothing (Hero) in 2021. Rileigh would like to express her deepest thanks to her friends and family for their endless love and support, she would not be the person and the performer she is today without them.

Michigan State University Land Acknowledgement

We collectively acknowledge that Michigan State University occupies the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary Lands of the Anishinaabeg – Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi peoples. In particular, the University resides on Land ceded in the 1819 Treaty of Saginaw. We recognize, support, and advocate for the sovereignty of Michigan’s twelve federally-recognized Indian nations, for historic Indigenous communities in Michigan, for Indigenous individuals and communities who live here now, and for those who were forcibly removed from their Homelands. By offering this Land Acknowledgement, we affirm Indigenous sovereignty and will work to hold Michigan State University more accountable to the needs of American Indian and Indigenous peoples.

friends of theatre logo

Friends of Theatre is a membership organization promoting, encouraging and enhancing activities of the MSU Department of Theatre. We organize events and programs that expand the community experience of theatre. We also create fund-raising opportunities and promote improvements in the programs and facilities of the MSU Department of Theatre. How can you join?  Make a donation to the Michigan State University Department of Theatre and you will become a most welcome member. Click here to learn more.

We would like to express our gratitude to the following friends who have generously supported the MSU Department of Theatre during the past year. If we have inadvertently left your name off this list, please accept our apologies and contact us so that we may make the correction. This list is current as of 11/01/2022.

Named Summer Circle Courtyard Donors
Sam and Mary Austin
Selma Hollander
Linda Nelson
Gretel Geist Rutledge
Jane K. Vieth and Alan P. Suits

Diamond ($2,500+, Season Sponsors)
Robert W. Matson

Platinum ($1,000-$2,500, Show Sponsors)
Sam M. and Mary E. Austin
John and Gretchen Forsyth
John I. Nichols
Alan Suits and Jane Vieth Suits

Gold ($500-1,000)
Philip and Jacqueline Babcock
Kirk A. Domer
Rose and Jim Zacks

Silver ($250-$500)
John F Baumgart
Michael G. Burry, D.O. and Mrs. Tina M. Burry
Karen M. Kangas-Preston
Robert J. Roznowski



Bronze ($100-$250)
Kwafo L. Adarkwa and
   Mia K. Gougeon-Adarkwa
Dr. Walter Baird and Marilyn Baird
Mrs. Barbara L. and Dr. Steven J. Bursian
Jeanie E. Croope
Robert J. DeWaal and Christine A. Aiello
Maribeth Fletcher
Craig J. Gunn
Dean O.  and Nancy E. Haney
Leonore F Helder
Linda D.  and Ross Howard
Jerry and Karen Jennings
Jean Lyle Lepard
John L. Lepard and Emily C. Sutton-Smith
Dr. and Mrs. Edward A. Oxer
Carol Payne Smith
Frana K. Potter
Jeffrey D.  and Gwen Seguin
Mary L. Terrien
Jacqueline M. Titus
Dr. and Mrs. Ewen C. D. Todd
Dorothy R. Van Looy
Barbara S. Wepman
Jane S.  and Mark R. Zussman



Pewter ($50-$100)
Lynn H Aguado
Elizabeth A. Baker Newell and
   Robert H. Newell
Daniel F. Buonodono and
   Sonia M. Cornell Buonodono
Bess German
Seth Goble
Bruce E. and Nicole R. Greenway
Amy G. and Robert E. Kilbridge
Geoffrey C. Kimmerly
Jeffrey S. Lambert
Marla K. and Dale Lambert
Elizabeth S. Lepak
Bernadette M. Lum and Robert Terranova
Michael B.  and Rebekah J. McKenney
Mary T.  and Ulrich Meierfrankenfeld
Janice L. Mernitz
Vicki A. and Richard J. Miksicek
Joshua R. Nahum
Susan H. Neller
Aidan J. Shepherd
Rosanne  Singer and Steve Mencher
Bryan Taylor
Richard K. Thomas
Donald K. Topliff
Aman Yadav and Emily C. Bouck
Craig W.  and Kathleen D.Zerkle
Frederick P. Zirm and Robinwyn D. Lewis

In Honor and Memorial Giving Program

Contributions made to the Honor/Memorial Giving Program offers you a way to honor any important occasion, including birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries. It is also a special way to remember those who are no longer with us.

The honoree will receive a beautiful card notifying them of your thoughtful gift. Any contribution of $50 or more will be listed in our program all season long (July 1 through June 30).

In Honor of Ms. Teriah N. Fleming
Prof. Kirk A. Domer

Distinguished Department of Theatre Scholarship Donors

Dixie Durr
The Dixie Durr Scholarship Fund

Virginia E. Albright
The Virginia Albright Acting Scholarship Fund

Gretel Greist Rutledge
The Frank C. Rutledge Scholarship in Theatre
The Gretel Geist Rutledge Annual Student Awards for Design Excellence in Theatre Production

Selma Hollander
The Stanley and Selma Hollander Endowed Graduate Fellowship In Theatre

Mary Culpepper
The Barbara Hacker Baldwin Theatre Scholarship