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Celebrate Shakespeare's 450th birthday with Gresham High School production


'Much Ado About Nothing' opens Wednesday, April 23

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Claudio, played by Brandon Bailey, and Hero, played by Angie Hanh, share a moment in Gresham High's 'Much Ado About Nothing.'

Just in time for Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, Gresham High School Theatre Arts Department is staging ol’ Will’s “Much Ado About Nothing.”

The production opens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 23, with $7 discounted tickets and birthday cake to honor of “The Bard.”

Director Sara Dempsey said Shakespeare twists audiences through a range of emotions and ideas, making us ponder if all our petty cares are much ado about little.

“We get so caught up in our everyday lives — with lies, misconceptions and uncertainties,” said Dempsey. “I’m hoping audiences realize that we don’t need to worry so much about nothing.”

First published in 1600, the comedic play centers on the intertwining courtships of two pairs of lovers: Benedick and Beatrice, played by seniors Devon Bailey and Lily Cichon, and Claudio and Hero, played by Brandon Bailey and Angie Hahn, juniors.

For Benedick and Beatrice, relentless teasing and spite turns into love, while the younger couple is rendered speechless by love, eagerly anticipating their wedding.

A wrench is thrown when the evil Don Pedro accuses Hero of infidelity, conspiring to break up the wedding.

Dempsey commended the cast’s work ethic, noting that many students, including the leads, helped to design, build and paint the set, including a gate and windows.

“These kids want to learn it all,” Dempsey said.

Each of the four leads said producing a Shakespearean play — the school’s first in five years — was a new challenge.

“If you mess up one word — even and or but or to — it completely changes the meaning,” Hahn said. “You have to know the intention behind the words.”

As Hero, Hahn said she plays a forgiving and sweet, yet witty character.

“There’s all this drama around her happening about nothing,” Hahn said.

Brandon Bailey said the play offer a lesson — we should get the full story before putting the pieces together.

“Playing Claudio is an emotional rollercoaster,” Brandon said. “He’s happy, then he’s pissed off. I’ve never had a character with so many different levels.”

Devon Bailey, Brandon’s older brother, said it felt natural to play brotherly figures in the play. He called the Benedick and Beatrice relationship “very dynamic.”

“(The play”) is about trusting your instincts,” Devon said. “Life has too many obstacles, and if you focus on trying to get over each individual one, you’re going to end up falling. Don’t take the big things too seriously and enjoy the little things.”

Cichon said her and Benedick’s banter stems from their love for each other, even though they poke fun at each other’s soft points.

“You have to know the full story and see through people’s masks,” Cichon said. “Deceit can get you far, but the truth comes out in the end, no matter what.”


What: Gresham High School’s production of “Much Ado About Nothing.”

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 23-Saturday, April 26, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 27.

Where: Gresham High School Auditorium, 1200 N. Main Ave., Gresham.

Tickets: $12 for adults and students; $10 for seniors; and $7 for the opening special on Shakespeare’s 450th birthday.

Info and tickets: 503-674-5516, ghsdrama.yolasite.com.