Shaking up Shakespeare

Medford student part of a reimagining of classic Shakespeare play

15-year-old Shannon McBride, 17-year-old Elaina Francisco, 15-year-old Aubrie DeMarco and 18-year-old Kerri McBride stand on stage during rehearsal.

When theater groups perform William Shakespeare’s play “Much Ado About Nothing,” the production may include upscale costumes and a lot of traditional English conversation. However, the Burlington County 4-H Players will be doing the production a little differently. They will reimagine the classic Shakespeare play. Instead of Elizabethan-era costumes and harpsichords, actors and actresses are dressed in ‘40s-era garb and swing music will play in the background. Kerri McBride will have a significant role in the play. McBride, a Medford resident, is the president of the Burlington County 4-H Players, a theater group for children ages 5 to 18 years old.

“I am extremely excited, especially because it is my last year as a senior,” McBride said. “I have been a part of the Burlington County 4-H Players since 2006. It has been a long time, but this is my last production with the senior high cast. I am also president of the club, so I have been able to get to know everyone in it, and it has been a lot of fun. We are a very united and close-knit cast, so it has been awesome.”

McBride will be playing the role of Beatrice, a determined, strong-minded character who continually fights the idea of marriage.

“She is a very strong character,” McBride said. “She does not necessarily really need a man to be in her life. She is indifferent to the idea of marriage. She loves her cousin Hero, and Hero gets married and is in love. She loves her cousin but looks down on marriage for herself because she is very independent. She gets tricked into liking Benedick, who at the beginning is her rival and enemy. They do not get along and butt heads a lot. On stage, we are constantly slandering each other and putting each other down. My aunt in the show sets out to trick me into loving Benedick. We are unique characters in the fact that we just don’t fall in love right away.”

McBride learned to develop her character with the help of “Much Ado About Nothing” co-director Lesa Thibodeaux.

Kerri McBride (red) talks to “Much Ado About Nothing” co-director Lesa Thibodeaux.

“My son, Noah, who is my co-director, chose ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ because it is his favorite play,” Thibodeaux said. “The story begins with an air of jubilance as soldiers are returning from war. Combining this element with the strong female characters in the play made his choice of the end of World War II a nice fit for the setting. We also have a history of swing dance in our club, which made a great match for the dance scene within the play.”

“The personality of Beatrice is quite the opposite of Kerri’s typical demeanor,” Thibodeaux added. “We enjoy working with our seniors to develop challenging characters, and it has been fun watching a naturally poised and polished Kerri bring sass and attitude to the stage. I have no doubt that she will make a great Beatrice because Kerri always delivers.”

Costumes from the play will be on display at the Burlington County Farm Fair in July.

“We will have a display about our production at the fair to show people,” McBride said. “This production brings together a lot of students and a lot of crew. We really enjoy putting it on every year, and I am really thankful to be a part of this club.”

The Burlington County 4-H Players productions of “Much Ado About Nothing” will take place April 25 through April 28. Each performance will begin at 7:15 p.m. at the Burlington County Institute of Technology Westampton campus, 695 Woodlane Road in Westampton. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under and can be paid at the door.

Click the box below to see pictures of the “Much Ado About Nothing” rehearsal

Much Ado About Nothing Rehearsal