Much Ado About Nothing Glistens with Romance and Comedy

Shakespeare's spirited romantic comedy Much Ado About Nothing opens on the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival main stage Friday, July 13, with previews July 11 and 12, and runs through August 5. Much Ado will play in repertory with Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Directed by James J. Christy, Much Ado offers a tale of two courtships: Beatrice and Benedick elevate the art of the quarrel in their duel of glittering wordplay, while Claudio and Hero are instantly smitten with one another. However, the scheming and envious Don John vows to ruin Claudio and Hero's happiness. Comical officers challenge dastardly villains, honor and desire collide -- and a story filled with laughter and love unfolds.

Rob Kahn and Eleanor Handley play the roles of Benedick and Beatrice respectively. Kahn's credits include serving as artistic director at Interact Theatre in Los Angeles, national tours, TV and film. Handley, who made her PSF debut last season as Adriana in The Comedy of Errors and Emilia in The Two Noble Kinsmen, appeared in the PBS broadcast of Twelfth Night as Maria. Zach Robidas, whose film credits include Arbitrage and It's Complicated, plays Claudio. Emiley Kiser plays Hero.

The cast includes Larry Bull as the prince Don Pedro and Joe Vincent as Leonato, Hero's father and Beatrice's uncle. Playing Don John, the bastard brother of Don Pedro is Tom Degnan, who played Joey Buchanan in the daytime television series One Life to Live. Jo Twiss appears as Antonia, Leonato's sister, while Carey Van Driest appears as both Ursula and Verges, the town deputy. Anthony Reimer takes the stage as Dogberry, the constable who is a master of malapropisms.

Thom Weaver has designed the Sicilian island setting where the play takes place, along with designing the lights. Sam Fleming has designed the costumes. Matthew Given serves as the resident sound designer for the Festival and Hannah Woodward serves as stage manager. Erin Hurley choreographs.

Performance summary:
· Opens: July 13
· Previews: July 11 & 12
· Closes: August 5

Performances: Tuesday July 24 at 7pm; Wednesday July 11, 18 & August 1 at 8pm; Thursday July 12 & 26 at 8pm; Friday July 13 at 8pm; Saturday July 28 at 8pm and August 4 at 2pm; Sunday July 15 & August 5 at 7:30pm and July 22 & 29 at 2pm

Tickets: $25-$52; $10 student rush 30 minutes prior to curtain, subject to availability

Tickets to Much Ado About Nothing are available at www.pashakespeare.org and by contacting the Box Office at 610.282.WILL [9455].

Much Ado About Nothing will play in repertory with Tennessee Williams' explosive Pulitzer Prize winner Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, featuring the same cast. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof will run from July 19-August 5.

The 2012 season also includes two other plays by Shakespeare, The Tempest (now through July 15), and King John (July 25-August 5). The Festival also features the children's shows Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (through August 4) and Shakespeare for Kids (July 25-August 4).

The production sponsors for Much Ado About Nothing are Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan; co-sponsors are Dr. & Mrs. Frank J. Szarko.

The Season Sponsor is The Rider-Pool Foundation. The Associate Season Sponsors are Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, Lutron Electronics Company, Inc., and the Harry C. Trexler Trust. Season Media sponsors are The Morning Call and Service Electric Cable TV & Communications.

The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival at DeSales University is the Official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth and a professional, not-for-profit, theatre company. An independent 501 c 3 organization, PSF receives support from DeSales University and relies on contributions from individuals, government agencies, corporations and foundations. PSF is a constituent of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, and a member of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Lehigh Valley Arts Council and the Shakespeare Theatre Association.

PRINCIPAL ARTISTS' BIOGRAPHIES

LARRY BULL, Don Pedro, also Doc Baugh in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Broadway: Lincoln Center (The Coast of Utopia). New York: 78th St (Kenneth – What is the Frequency?). Regional: Actors Theatre of Louisville, Geva Theatre, Denver Center, Shakespeare Theatre, Huntington Theatre, Trinity Rep, Utah Shakespearean Festival, Alabama Shakespeare and others.

JAMES J. CHRISTY, Director. PSF: The Playboy of the Western World, Twelfth Night (2008), Othello (1996). Recently directed the new play, The Outgoing Tide, for the Philadelphia Theater Company and the premiere of Ghost Writer at the Arden Theatre. He received the Philadelphia Theatre Alliance's Lifetime Achievement Award and is a professor emeritus from Villanova University where he taught theatre for 39 years.

TOM DEGNAN, Don John, also Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Credits include Pride and Prejudice (Cleveland Play House), Anna Christie, Midsummer Night's Dream, You Can't Take it With You (Monomoy Theatre). Film/TV credits: Handsome Harry, Magic City, The Good Wife, White Color, Law and Order, As the World Turns, and One Life to Live. Born in nearby Yardley, Pa.

SAM FLEMING, Costume Designer, also designed costumes for PSF's production of The Tempest this season. Credits include: Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera, Alley Theater, Alliance Theatre, Arizona Theatre Co., Denver Center, Berkeley Rep, and others. She has designed more than 50 productions for Milwaukee Repertory Theater over 14 seasons. NYC credits include Pearl Theatre and The Mint. She is the associate costume designer for The Phantom of the Opera, USA

MATTHEW GIVEN, Resident Sound Designer, Production Manager, PSF. 5th season as production manager and 9th season as resident sound designer. Notable PSF designs include: The Winter's Tale, King Lear, Dracula, Romeo & Juliet ('10), and The Mystery of Irma Vep. Regional credits include Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Centenary Stage Company, and Arcadia University. He holds an M.F.A. in sound design from Ohio University.

ELEANOR HANDLEY, Beatrice, also Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Second season with PSF: last year appeared Adriana in Comedy of Errors and Emilia in The Two Noble Kinsmen. She recently returned from Florida Studio Theatre, where she originated the role of Beth in the world premiere of Jack Canfora's Jericho. Since completing her MFA at the New School for Drama in NYC, she has worked extensively for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, including Cressida in the critically acclaimed Troilus and Cressida, Lady M in the tour of Macbeth and Maria in Twelfth Night, which was filmed and broadcast on PBS. Off Broadway she appeared in the New York premiere of Charles Mee's Limonade Tous les Jours opposite Austin Pendleton. TV: As the World Turns and Royal Pains.

ROB KAHN, Benedick, also Gooper in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He is the former Artistic Director of the award-winning Interact Theater Company in Los Angeles. Theater credits include National Tours, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Second City, and Geffen Playhouse. In the area: Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, EgoPo Classic Theatre, Theatre Horizon, Temple Repertory Theater, and Act II Playhouse. TV/film credits include CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Numb3rs, and National Lampoon's Dorm Daze.

EMILEY KISER, Hero. A rising senior at DeSales University, she was recently seen as Butch in Act 1's Shooting Stars. Her hometown is Mauldin, South Carolina.

PATRICK MULCAHY, PSF Producing Artistic Director. Since assuming leadership in 2003, Mr. Mulcahy has led PSF's return to artistic excellence and financial stability, rebuilt the professional company of artists, and achieved increasing national recognition for the Festival. Further accomplishments include PSF's first-ever award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and attracting a company of artists including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Emmy, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Jefferson, and Barrymore awards to the Festival, growth in all income areas, a 50% increase in annual attendance, and the expansion of the number of Actors' Equity contracts per season.

As a professional director, actor and fight director, credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theatre, television, and radio. Mr. Mulcahy has acted with Angela Basset, Peter MacNicol, Hal Holbrook, Joan Cusack, Don Cheadle, Anne Meara, Milo O'Shea, Cynthia Nixon, Tony Shaloub, Bradley Whitford, and others at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Hartford Stage, Roundabout Theatre Company, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, Syracuse Stage, and the Walnut Street Theatre. He served as a fight director for Tom Hulse and Timothy Busfield in A Few Good Men on Broadway and for Off-Broadway productions starring John Savage, John Mahoney, Marcia Gay Harden, and Patrick Dempsey. He directed Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga in The Real Thing, and, for PSF, directed Hamlet (2011), Antony and Cleopatra (2009), The Winter's Tale (2007), Henry IV, Part I (2005), The Tempest (1999), and acted in and served as fight director for The Taming of the Shrew (1998) and Julius Caesar (1997). As Head of Acting at DeSales, Patrick directed ten productions for Act 1, including I Hate Hamlet, The Grapes of Wrath, The Foreigner, and The Diary of Anne Frank. He holds an M.F.A. from Syracuse University.

ANTHONY REIMER, Dogberry, also Rev. Tooker in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. New York: Cactus Flower, An Ideal Husband and three seasons with New York Classical Theatre. Regional: Paper Mill Playhouse, Captial Repertory, Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Film/TV: Rescue Me, Chasing Zero, Marvelous Miles and Whisper in the Dark.

ZACK ROBIDAS, Claudio. PSF: Othello, The Winter's Tale, The Taming of the Shrew, Henry IV Part 1, and The Merchant of Venice. He has also worked on multiple productions with The Orlando Shakespeare Theater and Flux Theatre ensemble in NYC. Film: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Arbitrage, It's Complicated, Tooth and Nail, and The Golden Scallop. He has also appeared on episodes of 30 Rock, CSI NY, Law and Order, L&O Criminal Intent, I Just Want My Pants Back, Kings, as well as ESPN's digital series The Pretty Good Sports Show.

JO TWISS, Antonia, also Big Mama in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. PSF: Mrs. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice and the Player Queen in Hamlet (2011) in last season's rep, and the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet (2010). Played the role of Big Mama on Broadway opposite Ned Beatty. Recent Philly credits include Steel Magnolia's, Up, Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge, Always Patsy Cline, A Moon for the Misbegotten (Barrymore nomination), Dancing at Lughnasa (Barrymore nom) and The Borrowers. TV/film: Law and Order, Revolutionary Road and Disconnect

Carey Van Driest, Ursula/Verges, also Mae in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. National tours: Grace Farrell (Annie). New York: Reckless, The Importance of Being Earnest, Arms and the Man, The Winter's Tale and The Tempest (with Sonnet Repertory Theatre.) Regional: Denver Center, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Stamford Center for the Arts, others. Voice over credits include international documentaries, national commercials and radio.

JOE VINCENT, Leonato, also Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Mr. Vincent's career includes a combined 28 years at the Oregon, California, Old Globe, Alabama and Orlando Shakespeare Festivals. He has appeared in 33 of Shakespeare's 37 plays, and in more than 40 major musical theatre roles. He has appeared in theatre companies all over the country and, in 2008, he made his Broadway debut as Max in Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll directed by Trevor Nunn.

THOM WEAVER, Scenic and Lighting Designer. PSF: The Comedy of Errors, Playboy of the Western World, and The Merry Wives of Windsor, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Complete Works. Designs in the region include: Wilma, Arden, 1812, Azuka, People's Light, DTC, Walnut, Theatre Exile, Curtis Opera, Lantern, and Flashpoint Theatre Company, where he is Artistic Director. Other theatre credits: Teller's Play Dead in Las Vegas and NYC, Cal Shakes, Children's Theatre Company, CENTERSTAGE, Folger Theater, Cincinnati Playhouse, Syracuse Stage, Cleveland Playhouse, Roundhouse, Portland Center Stage, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Signature Theater Company, Berkshire Opera, Lincoln Center Institute, Lincoln Center Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, City Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, and Yale Rep. Awards include 9 Barrymore nominations (winning in 2011 for In the Next Room), 2-time City Paper's Best Lighting Design, 2-time Helen Hayes Nominee, and the 2007 AUDELCO Award for King Hedley II, Signature Theatre. He is a member of Wingspace Design Group. Education: Carnegie Mellon and Yale.