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Much Ado About Nothing


Musical based on the play by William Shakespeare.  Music by Bernard J. Taylor

Synopis (of the play)

At Messina, a messenger brings news that Don Pedro, a Spanish prince from Aragon, and his officers, Claudio and Benedick, have returned from a successful battle. Leonato, the governor of Messina, welcomes the messenger and announces that Don Pedro and his men will stay for a month. Beatrice, Leonato's niece, asks the messenger about Benedick, and makes sarcastic remarks about his ineptitude as a soldier. Leonato explains that "There is a kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her."[9]

Beatrice and Benedick, longtime adversaries, carry on their arguments. Claudio’s feelings for Hero, Leonato's only daughter, are rekindled upon seeing her, and Claudio soon announces to Benedick his intention to court her. Benedick tries to dissuade his friend but is unsuccessful in the face of Don Pedro’s encouragement. While Benedick teases Claudio, Benedick swears that he will never get married. Don Pedro laughs at him and tells him that when he has found the right person he shall get married.

A masquerade ball is planned in celebration, giving a disguised Don Pedro the opportunity to woo Hero on Claudio’s behalf. Don John, "The Bastard" (Don Pedro's illegitimate brother), is a malcontent who uses this situation to get revenge on his brother Don Pedro by telling young Claudio that Don Pedro is wooing Hero for himself. Claudio becomes furious at Don Pedro and confronts him. The misunderstanding is quickly resolved and Claudio wins Hero's hand in marriage.

Don Pedro and his men, bored at the prospect of waiting a week for the wedding, harbour a plan to matchmake between Beatrice and Benedick. The men led by Don Pedro proclaim Beatrice’s love for Benedick while knowing he is eavesdropping on their conversation. The women led by Hero do the same to Beatrice. Struck by the fact that they are apparently thought to be too proud to love each other, Beatrice and Benedick, neither willing to bear the reputation of pride, each decides to requite the love of the other.

Meanwhile Don John plots to ruin Claudio and Hero’s wedding by casting aspersions upon Hero’s character. His follower Borachio courts Margaret, Hero's chambermaid calling her "Hero", at Hero’s open bedroom window while Don John leads Don Pedro and Claudio to spy below. The latter mistaking Margaret for Hero are convinced of Hero's infidelity.

The next day during the wedding, Claudio refuses to marry Hero. He and Don Pedro humiliate Hero publicly before a stunned congregation and Margaret, who is attending the wedding, does not speak up in Hero's defence. The two exit, leaving the rest in shock. Hero, who has fainted, revives after Don Pedro and Claudio leave, only to be reprimanded by her father. The presiding Friar interrupts, believing Hero to be innocent and convinces the family to fake Hero's death in order to extract the truth and Claudio’s remorse. Prompted by the day's harrowing events, Benedick and Beatrice confess their love for each other. Beatrice then asks Benedick to slay Claudio as proof of his devotion, since he has slandered her kinswoman. Benedick is horrified and denies her request.

Leonato and Antonio, Hero's uncle, subsequently blame Don Pedro and Claudio for Hero’s death and challenge Claudio to duels. Benedick, prompted by Beatrice, does the same.

Luckily, on the night of Don John's treachery the local Watch has apprehended Borachio and his ally Conrade. Despite the Watch's comic ineptness (headed by constable Dogberry, a master of malapropisms), they have overheard the duo discussing their evil plans. The Watch arrest them and eventually obtain the villains' confession, informing Leonato of Hero's innocence. Though Don John has fled the city, a force is sent to capture him. Claudio, though maintaining he made an honest mistake, is repentant; he agrees to not only post a proper epitaph for Hero but to marry a substitute, Hero's cousin (not Beatrice) in her place.

During Claudio’s second wedding as the dancers enter, the "cousin" is unmasked as Hero to a most surprised and gratified Claudio. An impromptu dance is announced. Beatrice and Benedick, prompted by their friends’ interference finally confess their love for each other to the group at large. As the play draws to a close a messenger arrives with news of Don John’s capture – but his punishment is postponed another day so that the couples can enjoy their new-found happiness.

Musical Numbers

  1. Victory (Leonato and chorus)
  2. Disdain (Beatrice and Benedick)
  3. Now I Hear Symphonies (Claudio)
  4. This Strange Affliction Called Love (Benedick)
  5. Revenge (Don John)
  6. I'll Never Marry (Beatrice)
  7. How Can He Do This To Me? (Claudio, Benedick)
  8. The Sweetest Kiss (Hero, Claudio)
  9. They Will Drive Each Other Mad (Leonato, Claudio and Don John)
  10. Sigh No More Good Ladies (Balthasar and chorus)
  11. Madness (Benedick)
  12. Never Satisfied (Hero, Ursula, Margaret and attendants )
  13. How Can This Be (Beatrice)
  14. How He's Changed (Leonato, Don Pedro, Claudio)
  15. I'll Never Love Again (Claudio)
  16. The Officers of the Watch
  17. The World Is Brimming With Love Today (Hero)
  18. Shame (Claudio, Leonato, Don Pedro, Benedick, Hero)
  19. This Cannot Be! (Leonato, Benedick, Beatrice, Friar)
  20. If Only I Were a Man (Beatrice)
  21. Take Your Sword (Leonato, Claudio)
  22. Then Kill For Me (Beatrice, Benedick)
  23. If I Could Write a Sonnet (Benedick)
  24. I'll Never Love Again (reprise) (Claudio)
  25. Come Let Us Marry (Benedick, Beatrice, Claudio and Hero)
  26. Finale (company)


Primary Characters

Secondary Characters

General chorus.