Curtain Call: Gaslight’s Much Ado

Meaghan Fadden (Hero) and Jason Alfano (Claudio) in rehearsal for Gaslight Theatre‘s production of Much Ado About Nothing. Photo by Tom Bonomo.

Curtain Call

Gaslight’s Mid-Century ‘Much Ado’ runs through Sunday in Scranton

“I feel like we’re in White Christmas,” actress Meaghan Fadden joked as she posed for photos with her Much Ado About Nothing co-stars at last Sunday’s technical rehearsal. Despite having to drive through surprise snow squalls from Wilkes-Barre, most of the cast and crew arrived to the theater in a jovial mood, if a little behind schedule.
Loosely affiliated with King’s College, Gaslight Theatre Company works in Luzerne County most of the year — they rehearsed at Downtown Arts in Wilkes-Barre for two months before The Theater at Lackawanna College became available last weekend — but have eagerly taken advantage of an annual invitation from Community Concerts at Lackawanna College to stage a full-length production in the school’s historic theater each January.
Recent past productions include the musical [title of show], Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, and an original work by Matthew S. Hinton titled Quiet Cowboy. This year, they’ve opted to return to their foundation in the classics. William Shakespeare’s romantic comedy Much Ado About Nothing opened with a preview performance on Wednesday, Jan. 29 and will run through Sunday, Feb. 2. Directed by Kristen Peterman, it is set in post World War II mid-Century America.
The Shakespeare play was one of three plays Peterman proposed to Gaslight’s board of directors. She has an affinity for comedy and also submitted ideas for a biographical work about comedian and former Saturday Night Live cast member Gilda Radner.
She first read Much Ado About Nothing while in high school and then again in college as part of a course in Shakespearean films.
“I love that the women in this script are all very strong which is not necessarily typical of Shakespeare, with certain obvious examples aside,” Peterman said. “I just love the way the females are represented, and I knew that with the actors who would come out to audition, we would get the performances I was hoping for.”

Lydia Traill (Beatrice) and John Segear (Benedict) rehearse for Much Ado About Nothing at The Theater at Lackawanna College. Photo by Tom Bonomo.

Lydia Traill (Beatrice) and John Segear (Benedict) rehearse for Much Ado About Nothing at The Theater at Lackawanna College. Photo by Tom Bonomo.

The witty exchanges between Beatrice, played here by Lydia Traill, and Benedict (John Segear) are a good example, she said.
“She is every bit as clever as he is,” the director noted. “I think they enjoy the battle back and forth.”
The language of the play, she noted, is very relaxed and conversational in comparison with some other of Shakespeare’s works. It also lends itself readily to slapstick comedy.
“It’s been a lot of fun to try and relate it to present conversations. The topics that they are talking about and the situations that they are going through are not entirely that different from (what we are),” she said.
The script contains a lot of potential for comedy as written, the director said, but there are moments they’ve taken a little more liberally, especially with Beatrice and Benedict.
“There are moments where we have them rolling all over the stage,” she laughed.
The actors are working on a volunteer basis but they do take the work seriously, said Peterman. Her previous directing experience has been mainly on children’s shows with KISS Theatre but doesn’t feel, all experience aside, working with adults is much different. Most of Peterman’s Much Ado cast not only has experience performing, but performing in Shakespearen plays, a few like John Hornung has even performed in this play specific play before.
Hornung is playing Leonato this time around, but has back in the day played multiple roles, including Benedict, in another production.
“Leonato is the father of Hero. He is the host of this welcoming back party as the soldiers are coming back from the war. He owns the establishment, in this case it’s a retreat like a Catskills type of place and he has invited the soldiers to stay there and there is a celebration,” he explained.
As a father himself, Hornung has been able to connect with his character’s emotions over watching his daughter walk to the altar. Where he differs from Leonato, however, is in the character’s chauvinism.
“He doesn’t believe his daughter. He believes the men. And I think that’s very telling of the time period, that it’s patriarchal, and he immediately believes what the boys say … and is convinced only after some men try and convince him.”
If You Go:
What: Gaslight Theatre Company presents Much Ado About Nothing
Where: The Theater at Lackawanna College, Scranton
When: Jan. 30-Feb. 1, at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 2 at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $10-12. Call (570) 955-1455 for reservations or visit for more information.

“Friendship is constant in all other things
Save in the office and affairs of love.
Therefore all hearts in love use their own tongues.
Let every eye negotiate for itself,
And trust no agent.”
— Claudio, Much Ado About Nothing


Playwright and director Alicia Grega’s Curtain Call covers theater in The 570 and beyond.
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