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Penn State Fayette thespians explore love in Shakespeare play

| Saturday, March 29, 2014, 12:34 p.m.
The Penn State Fayette Lions Players will present William Shakespeare's 'Much Ado About Nothing.' Rehearsing a scene from the play are (from left) Kelsey Coldren of Connellsville, Lynn Petko of Brownsville, Jay Willard of Martinsville, Va., and Russell Nicholson of Ohiopyle.

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love can be downright comical. The Penn State Fayette Lions Players will explore all aspects of love in their production of Shakespeare's “Much Ado About Nothing” at 11 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 7 p.m. April 11 and 12 at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus.

Lynn Petko, English professor at Penn State and adviser for the group, said the play has several important themes.

“It compares young love — puppy love — to more mature love,” Petko said. “It shows how complicated love can be.”

She said that after performing tragedies for the past several years, the group wanted to perform a comedy.

The play is set in Messina, Italy. Claudio, a young soldier, falls in love with Hero, the daughter of Leonato, the governor of Messina. At this same time, Benedick, who serves Don Pedro, Lord of Padua (Italy), and Beatrice, Hero's cousin, conceal their growing love for each other. Hero and Claudio fall in love at first sight. Benedick and Beatrice engage in a battle of wits to conceal their mutual fear of commitment. Only when Hero is accused unfairly of adultery — as a result of which Claudio refuses to marry her — do Beatrice and Benedick unite to clear Hero's name. Having stood by each other during a time of crisis, Beatrice and Benedick marry.

Angela Simmons plays Hero.

“She's a sweet, naive character who doesn't know what love is,” Simmons said. “This story also shows the two sides of love — the puppy love of Hero and Claudio and the true love of Beatrice and Benedick. Both Beatrice and Benedick are hot-headed and stubborn. Gradually, their walls come down.”

Kaytlyne Povlik plays Beatrice.

“Beatrice and Benedick didn't run from each other in times of trouble, “ said Povlik, adding that she was drawn to Beatrice's fierce, witty attitude.

She said that showing Beatrice's transition from someone who's afraid of love to someone who's willing to marry was a challenge.

“I wanted the audience to feel Beatrice's pain for Hero,” Povlik said. “I also wanted the audience to see true love.”

Nathan Kiliany plays Claudio. He was drawn to his character by Claudio's stand for virtue.

“Claudio is virtuous. He shows what it means to be a Christian and serve God,” Kiliany said.

Casey McManus plays Benedick.

“He's clever, funny and sarcastic,” McManus says of his character. “I like the battle of wits.”

He thinks the play will appeal to modern audiences.

“I think modern audiences will like the exchange of wits,” McManus said. “All of the characters in this play are lovable and relatable.”

The cast will perform in period dress.

Admission to the show is free. For more information, call 724-430-4271.

Barbara Starn is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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