George Hartpence as Benedick & Carol Thompson as Beatrice (2010)


Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy by William Shakespeare (likely first performed in the autumn/winter of 1598-1599) about two pairs of lovers, Benedick and Beatrice, and Claudio and Hero. 

Benedick and Beatrice are engaged in a "merry war"; they both talk a mile a minute and proclaim their scorn for love, marriage, and each other.

In contrast, Claudio and Hero are sweet young people who are rendered practically speechless by their love for one another.

By means of "noting" (which sounds the same as "nothing," and which is gossip, rumor, and overhearing), Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into confessing their love for each other, and Claudio is tricked into rejecting Hero at the altar.

However, Dogberry, a Constable who is a master of malapropisms, discovers - unbeknownst to himself - the evil trickery of the villain, the bastard Don John.

In the end, Don John is captured and everyone else joins in a dance celebrating the marriages of the two couples.

Shakespeare`70 (1995)


role: Leonato

produced by Shakespeare`70

@ Washington Crossing Open Air Theater

June 8 - 17, 1995

directed by Frank Erath, PhD

Shakespeare`70 (2005)


role: Don Pedro

produced by Shakespeare`70

@ Washington Crossing Open Air Theater

June 9 - 18, 2005

directed by Frank Erath PhD

ActorsNET (2010)


role: Benedick

produced by The ActorsNET of Bucks County

May 21 - June 4, 2010

directed by Janet Quartarone

set design by George Hartpence


1995 production

George Hartpence (left) as Leonato & David Christoferson (right) as Dogberry


2005 production

cast photo at the Washington Crossing Open Air Theater

no other photos from this production


2010 production

George Hartpence and Carol Thompson (center) as Benedick & Beatrice


George Hartpence as Benedick & Carol Thompson as Beatrice


May 21 - June 6, 2010

ActorsNET of Buck County production

at The Heritage Center, Morrisville, PA

directed by Janet Quartarone

assistant director - Mort Paterson

produced by Virginia Barrie

stage manager - Michael Krahel

George Hartpence as Benedick


Carol Thompson as Beatrice


Dramatis Personae (2010)


Director's Notes by Janet Quartarone


program cover


Quarto cover



George Hartpence as Leonato


June 8 - 17, 1995

Shakespeare`70 production

at the Washington Crossing Open Air Theater

directed by Frank Erath


George Hartpence (left) as Leonato

David Christofferson (right) as Dogberry


Beginning of the wedding scene

George Hartpence (left) as Leonato

Kelly Medwick (center) as Hero

David Geisler (right) as Friar Francis


Gulling scene

Dale Simon (left) as Don Pedro

Tom Curbishley (center) as Claudio

George Hartpence (left) as Leonato

Steve Kazakoff (rear center) as Benedick


Terrible accusations at the wedding:

starting from the left: Tracy Hawkins as Ursula

Carol Kehoe as Beatrice

Kelly Medwick as Hero

Roger Leinhardt as Antonio

George Hartpence (right) as Leonato


 Leonato loses it on Hero 


Final Act - Reconciliation

From left: Tracy Hawkins as Ursula

Steve Kazakoff as Benedick

Roger Leinhardt as Antonio

George Hartpence as Leonato

Carol Kehoe as Beatrice



Much Ado About Nothing is set in Messina, a port on the island of Sicily, which is next to the toe of Italy. Sicily was ruled by Spain at the time the play was set. The action of the play takes place mainly at the home and on the grounds of Leonato's Estate.

Cast of Characters

· Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon

· Benedick, of Padua; a lord, companion of Don Pedro

· Claudio, of Florence; a lord, companion of Don Pedro

· Balthasar, attendant on Don Pedro, a singer

· Don John, "the Bastard Prince," brother of Don Pedro and the main villain

· Borachio and Conrade, followers of Don John

· Leonato, governor of Messina

· Hero, Leonato's daughter

· Beatrice, Antonio's daughter, Leonato's niece

· Antonio, an old man, brother of Leonato

· Margaret, waiting-gentlewoman attendant on Hero

· Ursula, waiting-gentlewoman attendant on Hero

· Friar Francis, a priest

· Dogberry, the grand constable in charge of Messina's night watch

· Verges, the Headborough, Dogberry’s partner

· A Sexton, the judge of the trial of Borachio

· The Watch,watchmen of Messina

· A Boy, serving Benedick

· Attendants and messengers


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."

Leonato's niece, Beatrice, and Benedick, longtime adversaries, carry on their arguments. Claudio’s feelings for Hero, Leonato's only daughter, are rekindled on his 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 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, harbor a plan to matchmake 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, 'The Bastard' Don Pedro's illegitimate brother, is a malcontent who 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 leave, 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.

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.

Astonishingly, 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 newfound happiness.