Misericordia Puts on ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ Play


Rachel Urbanowicz

The cast of ‘Much Ado About Nothing,’ practice its scenes as it prepares for opening night, November 11.

Alyssa Stegura, Reporter

The Misericordia Players finally got back on stage to perform “Much Ado About Nothing,” a William Shakespeare play, in Lemmond Theatre.

Based on the play originally written in 1598, Misericordia’s adaptation takes place in a modern-day New York City with soldiers returning home from fighting on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the beginning of each performance, a short video was shown of 2020 b eing rung in with the ball dropping in Times Square, followed by a clip of somber images of the travesty of the pandemic. These clips highlighted New Yorkers’ appreciation and gratitude as they clapped for health care workers returning home from a hard day of saving lives.

This Misericordia production highlighted the emotions felt by the actors to get back on stage and perform for a live audience.

For many students, being part of this production meant everything to them and even more, especially after the pandemic shut down theatre. They were happy to be in the same room together and back with their friends creating art.

“Being back on stage again feels surreal; it’s a true joy to welcome the new group of Misericordia Players to the stage before I graduate,” said senior English major and Secondary Education major Elizabeth Cote.

Cote played the lead role of Beatrice, a hard-hearted niece of the governor, who loves to hate her old fling with Benedick.

Students like senior Nursing major Sierra Ward, who played Margaret in the production, enjoyed being back with her friends and loved the connection the cast built.

“They’re an incredible group of people to be around,” said Ward.

Along with the excitement of being back together and putting on a show came some obstacles, especially for junior Occupational Therapy major Paige Sala, who was George Seacole in the show. Sala stated how difficult it was for her to juggle time between giving her all to her studies and to this show.

“Being a junior is very hard for Occupational students, so time is hard to find on top of school work,” she said.

Along with giving cast members a chance to rehearse together in person, the play also brought an array of fun features. Cast members wore clear masks at all times so they could adhere to the university’s mask guidelines while allowing the audience to understand what they were saying.

“Our feature includes a costumed ball, eavesdropping characters, goofy security team and great acting from MU veteran players and members of the Misericordia faculty,” said Assistant Professor of Mass Communication and Design Rachel Urbanowicz, who played Dogberry and served as dramaturg for the production.

The theatre was one of the most affected by the pandemic as shows could not be performed and audiences were not allowed to view any art. Many of the performers like Sala stated the importance of getting the theatre back open.

“Oh, it’s super important; it gets people to come out and watch and it also gets us out of our own rooms to perform a great show,” she said.

To put on a show takes a great deal of collaborative work from the performers, directors, technical crew and the stage crew.

“The stage crew built all the sets which are incredible; our tech crew who came in completely blind to the theatre managed to get things up and running,” said Ward.

Everything in this production was new and took time to come together. Each and every member of the cast and crew worked hard to put on the very best show as a lot was at stake with this performance since, for many, it was their first time back on a stage in a couple years.

“This is my first show being on stage since freshman year and I’m glad to be back doing what I love with the people I love,” said Ward.

For some performers, this show was the first full production they took to the stage and it proved to be a very taxing role.

“This is my first full production at Misericordia and it has already proven to be the most challenging role I’ve ever done,” said sophomore Early Childhood and Special Education major Logan Padden, who played the other lead role of Benedick.

“Benedick’s role in the show feels really personal to me as I got to slowly add my own personality to the character,” Padden added.

For other performers, like Cote, this show is another notch on her resume

“Too many shows to count, for this is my sixth Misericordia production,” she said.

Like Cote, Sala has also been a part of a couple other Misericordia shows.

“I was a part of the one-act shows we had up and running during Covid,” said Sala, noting how different this production was from the others.

“One of the one acts, we just read off the scripts and the other we had all rehearsals over Zoom and had very specific spots we had to remain in and couldn’t really interact with each other,” she said. “In this production, we finally could be together.”

The being away from one another and rehearsing on Zoom in the previous show had her missing the way productions are supposed to be performed. Previously, the shows were restrictive and the performers had to remain in their designated social distant box essentially on the stage and couldn’t interact with each other. Restrictions were in place for this production but were not as strict as before. Thanks to masking up for the entire production, the actors were able to be closer together. While Sala wishes they could perform without masks, she understands the necessity of wearing them to keep everyone safe and protected.

“I would prefer no mask but we have to keep everyone safe,” she said. “It’s great to get back to as normal as possible.”

All safety precautions were followed and put into priority for this production. Masks were required for all audience members in accordance to the university’s indoor masking policy. Also, some seats in the theatre were taped off for distancing so the theatre wasn’t overly crowded.