Msgr. Scanlan meets Shakespeare

Charly Bivona, playing Hero and Cameron Blair as Claudio in Red Monkey Theater Group’s production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing that will soon visit Monsignor Scanlan High School.
Photo courtesy of Red Monkey Theater Group

Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is coming to Monsignor Scanlan for a scholarship fundraiser.

The high school will host a Red Monkey Theater Group production of the play on Sunday, March 26.

This rendition of the play is set in Italy at the close of World War II.

The production is a fundraiser for the school’s Sr. Mary Richard Scholarship, which helps students in financial need pay tuition, said Bob Louttit, a Monsignor Scanlan board of directors member.

Tickets will be $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for students with a 2 p.m. showtime at the school’s Silverberg Field House.

Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance.

“All are invited to attend,” said Karen Genneralli, the school’s development director, adding the entire community is invited.

The recently established scholarship has already helped to partially pay the tuition of a Scanlan student, said Louttit.

It is named after a principal of St. Helena Business High School, a precursor to the present day school, he said.

The schools boosters were discussing fundraising ideas when alumna Ida Longarino, a community theater veteran, mentioned the College of Mount St. Vincent-based Red Monkey Theater Group’s touring performance.

“We found out that they were doing a Shakespeare play, an updated version of ‘Much Ado About Nothing,’ and we thought it would be appropriate for a high school fundraiser,” said Louttit.

Louttit said that many of the students are currently studying the play as part of their English Literature curriculum, and Longarino said that an alum has already donated tickets for some students to attend.

Alumni donations are also the Red Monkey Theater Group’s cost for the travelling performance, said Longarino.

‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is considered one of ‘the Bard’s’ greatest comedies.

The choice to give the play a modern setting makes it more accessible to audiences, said the play’s director and Red Monkey artistic director Tal Aviezar.

When Shakespearian plays are set in modern times audiences see things that are familiar to them, he explained.

“Much Ado About Nothing was originally a play set at the end of a civil war, and for us setting it in Italy at the end of World War II made sense for a variety of reasons,” said Aviezar.

“It is an Elizabethan-era play, but so much of it does fit very well into that mid-century period of change,” said the director, adding it allowed for the use of a lot of big band and swing music from that era.

Nevertheless the language will be Shakespeare’s, and “the audience will hear the verse and the poetry that makes the play great,” he said.

The running time will be about 90 minutes, an abridged version with nine actors and some actors playing multiple roles, he said. Currently, an intermission is planned.

To purchase tickets in advance visit the high school’s website at and click on ‘alumni events.’

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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