Spring play ends year on positive note

Elizabeth Alexander, Trending Editor

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Walking into Rezac Auditorium, I expected a dreary tragedy with dashes of romance, fitting Shakespeare’s famous take on theater. However, what I got was nearly three hours of romance and tear-jerking comedy.

The Manhattan High School theater troupe took an interesting take on Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” by setting it in the United States’ 1940s time period. It made for an interesting contrast, watching actors and actresses perform in ‘40s getup while speaking in Shakespearean tongue.

Speaking of costumes, the show on April 20 started with drama director Linda Uthoff giving a generous shoutout to the costume department, claiming that this production really showed off the skills they had when it came to costume-making and design. Upon watching the show, I could not help but agree. Sparkling sequin vests, elaborate dresses, accurate U.S. military uniforms and even fencing gear were wonderfully displayed and used. I was beyond impressed with the amount of detail the costumes had, and they suited each character incredibly well.

When it comes to the cast, the portrayal of the characters was justified and beyond impressive. I was particularly invested in the character of Benedick, portrayed by senior Caleb Luck, who never failed to get a laugh out of me. I very much enjoyed how vocally dramatic Benedick was played to be, as well as his outstanding and unique gestures, body language and behavior Beatrice, played by senior Ashlyn Gillispie. The uniquely enthralling and entertaining dynamic between Benedick and Beatrice kept me on the edge of my seat.

The set design was incredibly colorful without being overbearing. While it was not an elaborate design, it was easy to keep up with when it came to scene changes, making it simple to understand where the cast was with each scene. I also sawno issues with the set that interfered with how smoothly the play ran, excluding an accidental shift or fall of a set piece. Other than that, the set was reasonably planned and displayed in a way that benefited the play as a whole.

One of the unique aspects I noted about the play was the use of a small band that would actually perform on stage in certain scenes. In my past experience in theater, whenever live music was needed, the MHS band would play in the pit of the theater. This time, the theater department instead used the aesthetic of a small, live band to give the play that ‘40s feel they were going for, which I think was an incredibly fun and interesting touch.

As a graduating senior of 2018, I am very much pleased to see that the last play of the school year was something fresh, entertaining and different. I was among many within the theater who would roar with laughter from scene to scene, and by the end of the show, I left the theater feeling satisfied. With the departure of Linda Uthoff as the drama director, I can only hope that the next director will be able to put on just as good — if not better — shows in the future with the help of current underclass thespians.

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Spring play ends year on positive note