Of the four lead roles in the American River College production of “Much Ado About Nothing,” two are played by actors new to college productions: Micah Smith and Ashley Rose. First-timer Smith plays Claudio. Rose, playing Beatrice, is in her second college production, following last semester’s role as Frances in “Five Women Wearing The Same Dress.”
Smith and Rose are proving themselves capable.
“I am so glad I cast him,” said Pamela Down, director of the production, speaking of Smith. “He is wonderful to work with. He takes all of his notes very seriously and comes the next day having incorporated those notes into his performance.”
Downs said that Rose is “wonderful to work with. She understands theater discipline. She’s imaginative, she’s responsible and she’s very well trained, physically and vocally.”
You have quite a bit of experience in acting, including past semester, so that got you into applying here for Much Ado About Nothing? Did your friends also get you into this?
AR: Everybody except for one person in the cast of “Five Women” auditioned, so we all kind of did it together.
Pamela said she had a wonderful time working with you guys.
AR: I love working with Pam. She gives you a lot of freedom, which is very nice. She’s very open to creative suggestions and that has really helped the flow of the show.
What are some of the challenges of playing the role of Beatrice?
AR: Hardest part of me playing Beatrice was to convey her vulnerability. First time I read it, I had a totally different understanding of Beatrice than I do now. You know, she is a woman who’s been hurt. That was hard to play her letting back in that person who hurt her and be able to have that vulnerability again. She is a very complex woman and a challenge, but it’s been an honor to play her.
Would you rather play a simpler character or something like Beatrice again?
AR: No, I’d definitely choose Beatrice again every time.
What do you think about the steampunk element?
AR: I think it’s awesome. I love it. Bustles need to make a comeback. I love the bustles. If they do make a comeback, I will wear it. If steampunk was a regular form of dress, I’d do it. I might still do it, even if it’s not a regular form of dress, just because I can. It’s classy, it’s awesome.
What inspired you to audition for the play?
Micah Smith (MS): What inspired me to get into the play was actually an assignment for my acting class last semester. My teacher Sam Williams said just for extra credit, to try out and audition for a play and he mentioned ‘Much Ado.’ And actually ‘Arcadia’ and ‘Much Ado’ were both auditioning at the same time. So I technically auditioned for both of them.
(Smith auditioned for more than one role, but trying out for Claudio just clicked.)
This is your first play at ARC. Is this your first play altogether or you did some acting before?
MS: No, I’ve been in about four plays, give or take. Actually, I first started acting my senior year of high school and it was actually my first play ever. I was actually given a lead role. Which really kind of, even though it freaked me out, it really has sped up the process of learning about acting.
What was the learning curve like?
MS: It was definitely fast. I’d say I actually started learning about really acting was college. Before, in high school, it was just kind of simple stuff. Like, stage left and stage right and blocking.
And here, in this play, just kicks it up a notch?
MS: Oh, yeah. Sam Williams was my first really introduction to theater. He is amazing at what he does.
Did anyone inspire you to get in here or was it just professional interest?
MS: I’d definitely say Sam (Williams). Just from having (Theory and Techniques of Acting I) that I thought he kind of saw some potential in me.
What are some of the challenges of your role?
MS: Claudio unfortunately actually isn’t really supposed to be a likeable character. First half of the play he seems really likeable. He is coming back from the war. He is kind of a war hero. But once he finds out that Hero that cheated on him, it really shows signs of anger. He is unable to control how he is. And so he actually really just, you know, falls apart in second half. He can be really much of a jerk. And he is emotionally unstable, in a sense, I’d say that. So I guess that’s the hard part of dealing with him, trying to make him likeable when he actually wasn’t really written to be a likeable character.
And the Shakespearean language?
MS: Oh, yeah, that’s also a huge challenge.
How did you memorize the lines?
MS: Constantly, every single day, pounding it into your brain.
(Smith also explained that he practiced not only with his lines, but the line that comes before his so that he gets his lines down even better.)
What’s it like working in this team?
MS: It’s definitely a lot of fun.
What do you think of the steampunk element?
MS: I was pretty excited.
(Smith explained he likes steampunk so he was excited when he heard that the play will be a steampunk adaptation and that Sacramento Steampunk Society was coming to the April 26 showing.)