Much Ado About Nothing — Shakespeare

Much Ado About Nothing — Shakespeare

by William Shakespeare

Freely adapted and updated from the Shakespeare Classic by J.D. Newman

(Perfect for Colleges/Universities, High Schools and Middle Schools)

The military war is over, but the “merry war” of love has just begun! Considered one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies, join Beatrice and Benedict, Hero and Claudio as they navigate through mine fields of words and jealous rivals to the safety of finding that one person with whom you truly belong. Drawing serious and frivolous into one realm, the show tells of nobleman Leonato, who shares his home with his daughter, Hero; niece, Beatrice; and elder brother, Antonio, as he welcomes friends home from the war. The play is set in 1945, just as WWII was coming to a close. A time in history where feminism had just experienced more progress than it ever had before. The Allies quickly realized that the only way to victory was to incorporate the efforts of as many citizens as possible. While men were being drafted to serve as soldiers, women were encouraged to take up jobs that had been previously deemed “man’s work”. They were working in factories building and fixing planes, working as conductors, and driving trucks and fire engines. And for the first time in history, women were officially recognized as part of the military.Traditional gender roles are confronted as women who went to work are finding that they are now expected to return home. The dark time of the war has finally passed. Women have been holding down the Homefront and the boys are returning to rejoin everyday life. And while some young men are looking forward to the romances in store, there are others who swear to never fall prey to the distractions of love. Beatrice, is a “Rosie the Riveter”-style hero with her sharp words and independent streak. Her rival-turned-lover, Benedick, is a returning war hero. Their friends determine to test their stubbornness and start a game of matchmaking and mischief that turns everyone’s world upside down. Benedick and Beatrice, who “never meet but there’s a skirmish of wit between them”, stand head to head and go toe to toe.  The romantic tension is palpable and the clever banter sends sparks flying.

ARTWORK ABOVE: LOGO ART made from images supplied by the Utah Valley University premiere production in November of 2018, featuring Jacob Thomason as Benedick and Sam Sanduk as Beatrice. Used by permission of August Miller, UVU Marketing.


  • CAST OF CHARACTERS: (7m, 6F, 3child)MALE:
    Mayor Leonato: Mayor of Messina
    Verges: The long-time postmaster of Messina, a decorated WWI veteran
    Major Benedick: A decorated fighter pilot who fought in Europe under Don Pedro
    Captain Claudio: A comrade of Benedick and a suitor of Hero
    Dean John*: An embittered professor at Messina College who stayed home
    Conrad Borachio: Dean John’s protege and trusted assistant at the college
    Don Pedro: Benedick’s commander
    *Don John in original
    Beatrice: The spirited niece of Leonato, in the mold of Rosie the Riveter
    Hero: Leonato’s daughter, a nurse for the Red Cross
    Ursula: A friend of Hero, a “working girl”
    Margaret: A domestic servant in the home of Leonato, Ursula’s niece
    Dogberry: The restless air-raid warden of the town
    Balthasar Wilson#: A USO singer
    #Mr. Wilson is credited for singing the role at the Globe.
  • YOUTH:
    George Seacoal: An over-eager Boy Scout who hopes he’ll get to go to war
    Hugh Coil+: A young Boy Scout, loves to tie knots, especially on Conrad
    Hazel Oatcake+: A girl who poses as a Boy Scout, sees herself as a junior detective
    +Adapted from the name Hugh Oatcake in original
  • About 90 minutes
  • 1940‘s costumes including military uniforms.
  • 1 unit setting
  • Order # 3146

Available for ALL producing groups.


UVU’s Much Ado About Nothing Will Leave you Laughing, Crying, and in Awe of the Talented Cast
On November 12, 2018 By Rachel Ricks

“…The cast is impeccable for Much Ado About Nothing. The amount of talent on the stage was very enjoyable to watch and kept me constantly engaged throughout the whole performance, which in and of itself can be a feat when taking the original Shakespearean text and setting it in a more modern (1945) setting… 
With this talented cast, it doesn’t matter what your familiarity levels with Shakespeare are, you can be sure that you’ll be in for a fun-filled and enjoyable evening. So be sure to put UVU’s Much Ado About Nothing on your must see list!”

Through the eyes of 1945: UVU’s production of Much Ado about Nothing
Posted by Chun To Mok | Nov 18, 2018 | Arts & Culture

Unlike the original play of Much Ado About Nothing set in Italy, UVU students performed the play as though it was set in 1945… In this production, Dr. John Newman, the director[playwright], chose to adapt the setting in 1945, when WWII was coming to a close…In this production, grammar, nouns and titles were updated, and some of the lines have been trimmed…A few characters have been fused and a few of their lines reassigned. Shakespeare’s lyrics have been grafted into 1940s music…Newman’s decisions clarify Dean John’s motive and the reason why Beatrice falls in love with Benedick, which confused readers in the original play…I think it makes [Much Ado About Nothing] a little more accessible for people that maybe aren’t as familiar with the play”


  • Perusal Pages File Available here: MuchAdoNEWMANPERUSAL (The PDF file contains the first 2 1/2 acts of the 5-act play along with all background information.
  • EMAIL us for rights and information. Be sure to give us anticipated performance dates and the address of your group and, if different, your theatre. Please also include a contact name and phone number.


(Any PDF purchased will be emailed to your email address — if you need to provide that to us (not the one on your PayPal account?), email us. CDs will be mailed to a snail mail address) Before we ship any rehearsal material we will need your performance dates, the name of your organization and the theatre where you will perform.

  • Script in PDF format– Order #3146a : $25 (plus shipping and handling)

  • 1st Performance Amateur/Educational Royalty — Order #3146d : $65


  • 2nd Performance Amateur/Educational Royalty — Order #3146e : $50


  • Professional Royalties will be quoted upon application



  • Utah Valley University — November, 2018


The following is how the credits should read in all programs, posters, fliers, handbills and other promotional advertising for the show:
Much Ado About Nothing
by William Shakespeare

Adapted and Edited by

J. D. Newman

NOTE: The names of the Playwright(s), Composer, Lyricist, and Bookwriter shall be equal in size, type, coloring, boldness, and prominence. No billing shall appear in type larger or more prominent than the billing to the Authors except for the title of the play.


Much Ado About Nothing is presented through special arrangement with Leicester Bay Theatricals.  All authorized materials are also supplied by LBT,”

from the Leicester Bay’s Shakespeare Plays