Unveiling the Maverick Magic: The Top Gun inspired Much Ado About Nothing Play

Overview of Mitty’s interpretation of Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare.
Unveiling the Maverick Magic: The Top Gun inspired Much Ado About Nothing Play

The first production of the Performing Arts Department this school year was their rendition of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing with a Top Gun Maverick twist. Most of the flair seen on stage could have never happened without the preparation that went behind the play. Mr. Doug Santana, the Director of Performing Arts, and Ms. Gillian Ortega, the Performing Arts Manager, provide insight into the behind-the-scenes of a modernized version of Shakespeare’s play.

Ms. Ortega stated that one of the most obvious changes was that the play was set in Key West, Florida, instead of the original Verona, Italy. Characters were also slightly altered—the soldier characters from the original play had been swapped in with Top-Gun-inspired characters, and the rich town-folk became rich folk from Key West, who resided in a “fancy beach house.” Lastly, the sheriff characters were now lifeguards.

According to Mr. Santana, the idea of these changes was to create “a production that would be entertaining and relatable” to the students. He was inspired by a modernized version of Much Ado About Nothing he saw in London. Since there were many military aspects for the characters in the show, he decided to draw on the popularity of the Top Gun franchise, building the Shakespearean world from there.

Mr. Santana disclosed that the entire production took six months from start to finish. “We begin with design and pre-production meetings about show concept and scenic design elements,” he said. “Auditions for the show were held the first week of school and after seven weeks of rehearsal and set builds, the cast and crew hit the stage for opening night.” Ms. Ortega noted that Mr. Santana had begun making cuts on the show as early as the final week of July and up until rehearsals started. But Mr. Santana assured that there were “no changes to the storyline—all the best stuff was there” and that the production emphasized the celebratory scenes.

Cast members were trying to take this challenging show and make it more tangible and digestible for students. They had made an effort to understand the context and language themselves, which really shows through in Ms. Ortega’s opinion, “They were really encouraged to do this show; I think— because it’s different from something they had done in the past, so they wanted it to turn out well—so that determination was visible in their rehearsal.”

Mr. Justin Karr was the technical/scenic director. Ms. Anethra Rhodes, the Director of the Dance Program, created the choreography and dance sequences, another aspect of the play not originally in the Shakespearean rendition. Ms. Ortega also contributed to a lot of different alterations in the show, including scenic design, painting, hair and makeup, props, and projections.

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