Cuba Is Setting for DC Much Ado, Directed by Ethan McSweeny; Previews Begin Nov. 25

News   Cuba Is Setting for DC Much Ado, Directed by Ethan McSweeny; Previews Begin Nov. 25
The Shakespeare Theatre Company's new Washington, DC, production of Much Ado About Nothing, featuring Kathryn Meisle as Beatrice and Derek Smith as Benedick, under the direction of Ethan McSweeny, begins previews at Sidney Harman Hall Nov. 25. McSweeny (Broadway's The Best Man) sets the action in sultry Cuba.

Rachel Spencer Hewitt (Margaret) and Mark Hairston (Borachio) rehearse.
Rachel Spencer Hewitt (Margaret) and Mark Hairston (Borachio) rehearse.

Meisle (Lincoln Center Theater's Old Money, Shakespeare in the Park's Othello and Twelfth Night) replaced the previously announced Veanne Cox. Performances play to Jan. 1, 2012.

Smith recently appeared as Antonio in STC's The Merchant of Venice. He was Romeo in STC's first production of Romeo and Juliet. His Broadway credits include The Green Bird for which he received a featured actor Tony Award nomination, plus The Government Inspector, Timon of Athens, Jackie: An American Life, Ring 'Round the Moon, Getting and Spending and Scar in The Lion King.

STC's new Much Ado About Nothing is set on a sugar cane plantation in hot and sultry 1930s Cuba. According to STC notes, "McSweeny was inspired by a previous production of Much Ado directed by his co-artistic director Vivienne Benesch at the Chautauqua Theater Company. He was so taken by the concept that he decided to further exploring the setting."

McSweeny said in a statement, "I don't think anyone would claim that Shakespeare's Sicily and Cuba in the '30s are identical, but if you scratch the surface the parallels ring true: including proximal low level civil conflicts, a society with a strong religious influence, a native sense of machismo, heat, and above all, sexiness. And then there's that great Cuban music and dancing which we will utilize for its maximum celebratory impact."

The cast also includes Floyd King as Verges, Ted van Griethuysen as Dogberry, Bev Appleton as Antonio, Colleen Delany as Ursula, Ryan Garbayo as Claudio, Mark Hairston as Borachio, Rachel Spencer Hewitt as Margaret, Kate Hurster as Hero, Lawrence Redmond as Friar Francis, Matthew Saldivar as Don John, Ashley Smith as Conrade, Adrian Sparks as Leonato and David Emerson Toney as Don Pedro and. Other cast members include Aayush Chandan, Carlos J. Gonzalez, James Graham, Michael Gregory, Phil Hosford, Aaryn Kopp, Matthew McGee, Janel Miley, Jacob Perkins and Andrew Wassenich. The creative team includes set designer Lee Savage, costume designer Clint Ramos, lighting designer Tyler Micoleau and composer/sound designer Steven Cahill, plus choreographer Marcos Santana, associate choreographer Alison Solomon, stage manager Joseph Smelser and assistant stage manager Elizabeth Clewley. Casting is by McCorkle Casting, Ltd. with assistance from STC's resident casting director Daniel Neville-Rehbehn. Jenny Lord is assistant director.

For tickets and more information, call (202) 547-1122 or visit

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