Oklahoma Baptist University

Much Ado Opens New OBU Theatre

Oklahoma Baptist University's Theatre Department will debut its newly remodeled theatre with one of Shakespeare's most beloved comedies.

OBU will present Much Ado About Nothing Nov. 1, 2 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. and November 9-10 at 2:30 p.m. in Craig-Dorland Theatre in Shawnee Hall on the university's campus.

A restructured and expanded stage area; a renovated balcony; new seating; new curtains; and new electrical, lighting, sound and rigging capabilities, will house theatre productions that have been performed on Sarkeys Theatre blackbox stage for more than a decade.

Formerly the Rhetta May Dorland Theatre, the space was renamed earlier this year in honor of the Cleo L. Craig Foundation of Shawnee. The Craig Foundation provided leadership support for the university's arts facilities renovation effort.

OBU's production of the popular Shakespeare play Much Ado is comedic with tragic elements. The play begins with the gaiety of a masked ball and newfound love but descends to the deepest level of betrayal.

Director Dr. Joyce Aldridge, OBU assistant professor of theatre, has set the play in 1920 Messina, Italy, following a small-scale military conflict. The combination of the lighting, set design and costuming will create a unique sensory experience for the audience, the director said.

Remaining true to Shakespeare's light-hearted romp through human emotion and trickery, leading characters include Beatrice, played by Kelli Kiser, a senior from Edmond; Benedick, played by Rex Daugherty, a sophomore from Oklahoma City; Claudio, played by Joshua Dodd, a freshman from Hammon; Hero, played by Stephanie Stewart, a sophomore from Hollis; Don Pedro, played by Michael Clack, a senior from Moore; and Leonato, played by Cody Napier, a sophomore from Shawnee.

Also in the cast are Will Ledesma, a sophomore from Wellington, Kan., as Don John; Joshua Cain, a junior from Muskegon, Mich., as Conrad; Matthew Packer, a junior from Singapore, as Conrad; Jesse Vinyard, a freshman from Choctaw, as Dogberry; and Rob Christiansen, a sophomore from Kalama, as Verges.

Other cast members include Blake Bolerjack, a sophomore from Perryton, Texas, as Balthazar; Latricia Reichman, a sophomore from Tulsa, as Ursula; and Kinsey Dickey, a senior from Springdale, Ark., as Margaret; and Doug Watson, professor of English, as the Friar.

Filling out the cast are Breeman Ainsworth, a junior from Bozeman, Mont.; Aaron Kelley, a junior from Clinton; John Keisling, a junior from Athens, Texas; Andra Dunn, a junior from Garber; Lee Matthews, a freshman from Canyon Lake, Texas; and Sherri Matthews, a freshman from Shawnee.

The stage manager for the production is Rose Bacorn, a junior from Wright City, and the assistant stage manager is Tiffanie Pearce, a junior from Wichita, Kan. Other crewmembers include Helena Newberry, a freshman from Wellington, Kan., and Twila Johnson, a senior from Gresham, Ore.

The scenic and lighting design was created by Laura Byland, OBU assistant professor of theatre. Dottie DeLeon, lecturer in communication arts, did costume design.

Audience capacity for OBU theatre productions in the new theatre will increase from the 100 seats currently available in the blackbox theatre, to 200 seats. The theatre will double as a lecture hall, providing an optimal auditorium for guest lecturers and speakers.

The theatre had been the Rhetta May Dorland Theatre since 1956, named in honor of OBU's first professor of speech and theatre. Prior to that it was called the University Theatre.

Work to refurbish the theatre began in the summer of 2001. Prior to the performance Nov. 1, the university will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by a reception for the grand opening after the performance.

Ticket prices are $7 for adults. For reservations, call OBU's theatre box office at 878-2347 Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. or 5-6:30 p.m.

Reserved tickets will be held 24 hours without payment. Seating begins 30 minutes prior to performances and late seating is at the discretion of the house manager. Reserved seats that are unclaimed 15 minutes prior to performance will be sold.

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