Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre returns for summer 2022

After a two-year hiatus, the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre returns for the summer of 2022 with one of Shakespeare’s most beloved works, “Much Ado About Nothing.”  

Much Ado About Nothing” will be performed at the University of Central Arkansas Bridges Larson Theatre in Snow Fine Arts on June 23-25, June 30 and July 1.

Times are listed below: 

  • June 23-24 at 7:30 p.m.
  • June 25 at 2 p.m.
  • June 30 and July 1 at 7:30 p.m. 
  • July 2 at 2 p.m. 

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at

Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre is the state’s only professional Shakespeare company and makes its home on the UCA campus. Traditionally, AST would present full productions of Shakespeare’s works, as well as other plays and musicals that help fulfill AST’s mission to entertain, engage and enrich the community each summer. Due to COVID-19, AST canceled its 2020 and 2021 seasons. 

“We are so excited to be bringing Shakespeare and professional theatre back to campus this summer. AST has been an integral part of the arts community in central Arkansas since 2007.  While the two-year hiatus has been a huge disappointment, it has also given us a chance to reflect, reimagine and build new connections,” said Shauna Meador, executive managing producer of AST. “As we look forward, we are focused on strengthening our professional theatre foundation, building on our educational mission, and leading and participating in the growth and expansion of the arts in central Arkansas.”

The return of the festival also brings a new partnership with the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.  AST intends to capitalize on the phenomenal talent and existing resources within the state by taking advantage of the U of A’s graduate performance and design students, as well as talented faculty. 

Michael J. Riha, chair and professor of theatre at the U of A says engaging professionals from across the state is a great way to encourage unification. “We are grateful to play a role in building the theatre community right here in Arkansas,” Riha said. 

Much Ado About Nothing” will be performed at the Global Campus Theatre at the U of A on June 16-18. Times and ticket information can be found at

“Much Ado About Nothing” will be directed by Stacey Pendergraft, associate professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Department of Theatre Arts and Dance. Pendergraft has previously been seen performing on the AST stage in the “Merry Wives of Windsor,” “Fiddler on the Roof,“ “Love’s Labour’s Lost” and “The Music Man.”

“‘Much Ado About Nothing’ will transport audiences to the cultural oasis of Messina, a crossroads of Spanish, North African and Italian influences,” Pendergraft said. “Don Pedro and his band of men arrive at the lush court of Leonato, encountering love, the high-spirited wit and exacting lessons of the women who are its driving force.”

The names and characters or positions of the AST “Much Ado About Nothing” crew are listed below:

Name Character/Position AR Connection Hometown
Stacey Pendergraft Director UA Little Rock Little Rock, AR
Katie Green Assistant Director UA Little Rock
Joe Millett Production Stage Manager UA Faculty New York City, NY
Brianna Wallace Assistant Stage Manager UCA Undergraduate Cabot, AR
Bill “Clark” Rogers Leonato Community Memphis, TN
Scott Russell Don Pedro Community Indianapolis, IN
Steven Marzolf Benedick UA Faculty
Jordan Williams Claudio UA Graduate Student Los Angeles, CA
Chris Fritzges Antonio/Dogberry UCA Faculty Pittsburg, PA
Gabriel Franco-Kull Verges / Ensemble UA Graduate Student Fayetteville, AR
Riles Newsom Don John / Balth UA Graduate Student Chicago, IL
Bret Kagebein Conrade / Ensemble UCA Undergraduate Perry, AR
Edwin Green Borachio UA Graduate Student Houston, TX
Alex Horn Watch #1 / Friar / Ens. UA Undergraduate Benton, AR
Dalton Carroll Watch #2 / Msgr. / Ens. / Claudio US UCA Undergraduate
Elizabeth “Betsy” Jilka Beatrice UA Faculty Springdale, AR
Audrey Romero Hero UA Undergraduate Springdale, AR
Leah Smith Margaret UA Graduate Student Cleveland, OH
Grace Taylor Ursula UA Graduate Student Bloomfield, MO
Emma Williams Ensemble / Hero US UCA Undergraduate Maumelle, AR
Morgan McInnis Scenic Designer UA Graduate Student Fayetteville, AR
Callie Lythgoe Costume Designer UA Graduate Student Fayetteville, AR
Zack McJunkins Light Designer UA Graduate Student Texarkana, AR
Chad Bradford Composer / Music Director Community Little Rock, AR
Baqiir Salaam Sound Designer / Engineer Community Little Rock, AR
Eli Summers Costumes UCA Undergraduate North Little Rock, AR
Heidi DeCaluwe Costumes UA Graduate Student Fayetteville, AR
Trey Ewart Lights / Sound UCA Undergraduate Bentonville, AR
Essence Robinson Lights / Sound UA Little Rock Undergraduate North Little Rock, AR
Matthew Coordsen Scenic / Props UA Undergraduate Fayetteville, AR
Destiny Zrebski Scenic / Props UCA Undergraduate Jacksonville, AR