All photos by Nozizwe Msipa / North by Northwestern

Entering the humble shack of Shanley Pavilion, I was initially confused – had I just walked into the venue of a Shakespeare play or a trendy rooftop bar? It turned out to be a little bit of both.

Welcome to Lovers and Madmen’s presentation of Much Ado About Nothing, set in a modern day Miami nightclub.

Much Ado is a classic Shakespearean comedy, covering the usual tropes of characters who fall in wild and desperate love, a case of mistaken identity, some trickery and hijinks by minor characters and of course a big wedding in the end. Bringing a 400-year old text into the 21st century can be challenging, and many companies approach the task in different ways. How does Much Ado About Nothing make Shakespeare fun and accessible? The consensus seems to be by making it a party.

When asked why people should come to the show, communication sophomore Carter Popkin said “If you want to party.”

Communication senior Rishi Varma echoed this sentiment, answering the same question with, “If you like partying, having a good time, fun, colors … this show is going to be a very fun take on Shakespeare.”

Director Gabriela Furtado Coutinho articulated the sane idea in the eloquent way directors do who are passionate about their projects.

“It was very important to me to create something that audiences could really find healing and joyful after this time. I don’t take people’s time for granted, especially with the pandemic and this opportunity to gather, so my hope was to figure out what a sensorial experience of joy look like,” the communication junior said. “To me, it looks like people really living fully and being honored, and I feel like Shakespeare is a really good text to use to honor people because it's been something so revered, but then translating it to peoples cultures and what we actually find joyful ourselves.”

And the Miami setting?

“To me, Miami is an incredibly joyful place because it's like a salad bowl sort of culture. People really appreciate one another, see one another, you hear music in different languages being blasted outside, and it's just very colorful and beachy,” Furtado Coutinho finished.

The creative team committed to creating this Miami party atmosphere. Communication senior Brandon Acosta said the show’s sound – some of which is original music he wrote for the production – has a “warm beachy vibe.”

Co-costume designer Claire Scavone highlighted the challenge of costuming the Miami setting.

“One [of the challenges] is the line that you can draw between fun and tacky because you never want anything to look tacky, but you wanna have as much vibrancy and colour and pattern in the show as possible,” said Scavone, a communication junior.

Fun. Happiness. Miami. Beach. Did I mention there’s a splash zone? If you need any more convincing of Much Ado About Nothing’s commitment to good vibes and good times, take communication sophomore Reilly Oh’s comment.

"This is a piece about joy and happiness. We’re back together on stage for the first time in the year, and we should share in the joy,” Oh said.

So if you find yourself in Shanley Pavilion this weekend, as Lorde says in her iconic revel album Melodrama, “I guess we’re partying.”

Much Ado About Nothing will run in Shanley Pavilion on October 15 at 7 pm and 10 pm, and on October 16 at 2 pm and 7 pm. Entrance is free and no tickets are required.