"Much Ado About Nothing" - by William Shakespeare - ATAC Main Stage (Framingham, MA.) - REVIEW

(Cover Photo: The CAST of William Shakespeare's "MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING" presented by ATAC Main Stage in Framingham, MA. through June 1, 2024. Photo Courtesy ATAC Main Stage)

By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

# 774-242-6724

"Everyone cannot master a grief but he that has it.”  

                                - ("Benedick") / William Shakespeare

ATAC Main Stage

Presents William Shakespeare's 


Two Performances Only!

Written by William Shakespeare

Directed by Megan Lummus

Katherine McCrackin as “Beatrice,” Skye Robicheau as “Benedick,” Norman Dubios as “Claudio,” Jennifer Listerman as “Hero/Dogberry,” Gabbi Gereau as “Don Pedro/Verges,” Geof Newton as “Leonato/Conrad,” Beetle Secor as “Don Jon,” Kyle Collins as “Borachio/Friar,” Mikaela Green as “Margaret/Sexton,” Timothy Fontaine as “Antonio/Balthazar/Others,” Toby Boone as "George Seacoal." 

Additional Creative Team: Producer/Intimacy Coordinator - Amanda Holbrook; Choreographer - Jennifere Listerman; Fight Choreographer - Katherine McCrackin; Costumes - Krista Commisso; Access & Dramaturgical Consultant - Katherine McCrackin.


May 31, 2024 through June 1, 2024 at 7:30pm 

Performances to be held at ATAC Main Stage, 160 Hollis Street, Framingham, MA. 


All Ages, Tickets $10, $15



Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information.

(Note: The following review is of an event that has passed)

ATAC Main Stage (at Amazing Things Arts Center) presents a bold effort in their staging of "MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING" by William Shakespeare.   

The relevancy of Shakespeare’s story of "MUCH ADO..." still resonates today, some four centuries later. 

With an exceptionally diverse cast, director Megan Lummus’ more inclusionary approach continues this resonance with a clearly sustained focus on, as noted in the groups press release: “…putting a neurodivergent-affirming spin on it” ("neurodivergent" referring to anyone with an alternate brain wiring who experiences the world differently).   

While, on the production level, the show displays some basic artistic struggles, the collective effort by its cast and creative team deserves nothing but supportive high praise.

"MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING" is presumed written by Shakespeare approximately somewhere between 1598 and 1599. The play was included in the First Folio, published in 1623.   

According to the show’s program, the ATAC staging is presented in two acts and is set somewhere between 1811 and 1820 in the harbor city of Messina, Sicily.   

Now, some might recall that Shakespeare was never known for his “futuristic” tales, so reading the above dates some 200 years POST-Shakespeare’s time might seem a little odd. 

Yet, it is not uncommon for some stagings to move the time period of the Bard’s stories to another more contemporary (or even further into the future), and the ATAC costuming by Krista Commisso does seem to suggest that the play has been moved to an 1800s timeframe.   

The ATAC presentation is done in intimate “brick box” style, using only a bare, elevated platform stage which, under the capable direction of Lummus, allows the strength of Shakespeare’s words to be the sole focus and not the trappings or adornments.

A nice touch is the descriptive introduction of each character serving as a prologue to the performance. 

The platform stage has two carpets draped across it. 

Only two white chairs and an end table are located center stage. Most of the action takes place around these items. The cast is responsible for moving them on and off as needed. 

The story of "MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING" centers on the exploits of two amorous couplings and, of course, anything that can go wrong, does. 

Celebrating the joy of love and a belief in redemption, the Bard’s story follows the witty exchanges, sincere affection and, ultimately, the mutual faith held by these two pairs of lovers. 

As the play unfolds on stage, nobleman Leonato (Geof Newton) celebrates friends returning home from war. 

Leonato is a gentle man who lives in Messina with his attractive young daughter, Hero (Jennifer Listerman), his older brother, Antonio (Timothy Fontaine, playing multiple characters in the show), and Antonio’s daughter, (Leonato’s mischievous niece) Beatrice (Katherine McCrackin). 

Leonato’s returning friends include Prince Don Pedro (Gabbi Gereau), well-respected young nobleman Claudio (Norman Dubios) and vexatious Benedick (Skye Robicheau), who causes no end of chaos in the Bard’s tale, but not without help. 

Claudio quickly falls for the lovely Hero while, on the contrary, Benedick and Beatrice share a more acrimonious affinity.   

Sharing in some acrimony of his own is Don John (Beetle Secor), Don Pedro’s bitter illegitimate brother. 

Claudio and Hero announce they have decided to marry within the week. 

While awaiting the nuptials, everyone attempts to get Beatrice and Benedick to stop bickering and finally admit their attraction to each other. 

Throwing a monkey wrench into all plans is Don John, who upsets everyone’s happiness. 

Don John has Borachio (Kyle Collins) woo Margaret (Mikaela Green), Hero’s serving woman, at Hero’s window under cover of night, and persuades Don Pedro and Claudio to “catch them in the act.” 

“Catch them in the act” meaning Don Pedro has Claudio convinced of witnessing Hero being unfaithful. 

Enraged, Claudio disgraces Hero at the wedding, accusing her of being unfaithful. 

Struck down by Claudio, Hero is presumed dead but is not. 

Leonato chooses to pretend that Hero died and hides her away until he can uncover the truth and convince Claudio of Hero’s innocence. 

There is some effective doubling up of characters including that of Dogberry (adeptly portrayed by Jennifer Listerman), Sexton (by Mikaela Green) and Verges (by Gabbi Gereau). 

Kyle Collins also serves as the clever Friar character who becomes pivotal in resolving the multiple conflicts and subplots in the story. 

Rounding out the cast is Toby Boone as “George Seacoal,” a member of the city watch.  

The collective performances are effective in keeping the show moving at a steady pace. 

Costuming, much like the sets, is kept to a bare minimum, but proves valuable in defining each unique character. 

Those in the cast doubling up (or more) should be commended for several quick costume changes required. 

That said, at the June 1st performance, some of the ATAC costumes, particularly any long gowns worn, caused several moments of missteps and outright tripping on the carpeted stage. 

While the overall performances feel uneven - fluctuating from those actors seeming more “in tune” with Shakespeare to some who simply do not seem to grasp the essence of the Bard’s text - the concerted effort is still there and must be acknowledged. 

At the June 1st performance, both the first and second act finales did not “land” as they should have as it was unclear that the story, at either juncture, had come to a conclusion.

The addition of music and choreography to enhance the production proves unnecessary and, on such a small stage, feels distracting as the actors appear occasionally ill-at-ease. 

The overall strength of any show is in the execution of the text and, when THAT works, it is quite impressive and with "MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING" it shows great promise for this group. 

It is always encouraging to see live theatre sustaining in Framingham which, for decades, has proven to be a struggle. 

Yet, with Common Thread Theatre Company, ATAC Main Stage and the Amazing Things Arts Center, there has always been those dedicated artists and groups who continue to entertain the people of Framingham with quality live theatre productions. 

In their press release, ATAC states how “this production focuses on joy and accessibility” and they certainly prove this well. 

It is hoped that more joyous and accessible efforts like this one at ATAC Main Stage will be forthcoming and will continue to be supported by the community.

Approximately two hours, 20 minutes with one intermission.  

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA)




"MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING" is a classic Shakespeare tale of love, trust and deceit. 

Claudio is madly in love with Hero but is tricked into believing she is unchaste, and that is nearly their undoing. 

Meanwhile, enemies Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into falling in love with each other through their friends.

This production is taking "MUCH ADO" and putting a neurodivergent-affirming spin on it. "Neurodivergent" refers to anyone with an alternate brain wiring who experiences the world differently.

Theatre is often a place that isn’t always welcoming to neurodivergence, and ATAC aims to change that. 

This production focuses on joy and accessibility.

While aiming to make the show as accessible as possible, ATAC is aware that access needs are fluid and differ from person to person. 

If there is any specific access need you require in order to attend this show, please contact them. 

Note: There will be captioning and some open audio visual descriptions in the show. 


ATAC fosters community and creativity through increased access to the arts.

ATAC is a community-focused visual and performing arts center providing access to the economic, creative, and community-building opportunities inherent in the arts. ATAC accomplishes this through live music, theater, comedy, and visual art programs. By collaborating with other community-based organizations, activists, and artists, ATAC helps meet the emerging needs of others with dignity, creativity, and joy.


160 Hollis Street

Framingham, MA. 01702 

# 508-405-2787