Thi Le finds her Hero in Shakespeare Dallas' ‘Much Ado About Nothing'

The Texas native is spending her summer making her Shakespearean debut before moving to New York City

Shakespeare Dallas 2023 Much Ado About Nothing Thi Le
Linda Blase

For Thi Le, learning she would play a leading role in one of her favorite Shakespearean romantic comedies at Shakespeare Dallas was anything but much ado about nothing.

The Asian American actor plays Hero in William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, one of Shakespeare Dallas’ two summer productions at Samuell-Grand Amphitheater, now running through July 16.

“I hung up the phone and immediately started sobbing, like hysterically sobbing, because I haven’t ever thought of myself as somebody who could play these roles in Shakespearean shows,” Le said. “The fact that Jenni Stewart, our director, saw in me that I could play this role and bring representation to my community is really important.”

Shakespeare Dallas Much Ado About Nothing 2023 cast
Linda Blase
Thi Le as Hero, Tommy Stuart as Don Pedro, Nicole Berastequi as Beatrice in Shakespeare Dallas' Much Ado About Northing.

Le grew up reading the play and watching Kate Beckinsale play Hero in Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 film Much Ado About Nothing.

“I’m literally living out my childhood dreams and I’m getting to play these roles and getting to perform onstage and show other people who look like me that they can do this too,” Le said.

Much Ado About Nothing is Le’s Shakespeare Dallas debut and she is learning how to endure the Texas heat while performing outdoors. Fans are set up backstage, the theater provides lots of water, and actors find a respite in air-conditioned dressing rooms.

“It’s just a magical experience,” Le said. “Yes, it’s hot, however, we get to create art under the stars and there’s something so magical about performing outdoors on a summer evening that makes it all worth it.”

The show has been reset from Messina to Hawaii, just after the Vietnam War. Costumes designed for the tropical setting create the show’s joyous atmosphere and help the actors beat the heat.

“We’re basing it on a Hawaiian beach resort in the 70s which makes our costumes so, so incredible,” Le said. “We are perfectly set up for success in our costumes for a summer show.”

This production is set at 1970's Hawaiian beach resort.

Le sees Hero as more than a romantic ingenue.

“I relate very, very much to Hero. I think Hero is very much the girl-next-door, very much the daddy’s girl, very obedient, however, I think she has a little spice in her, a little bit of sass, a little bit of fire. We’ve been able to find that in the rehearsal process to bring out a little more spunk,” Le said. “I think she has a really big heart. She falls in love very easily. She is enamored with life, and she just wants to love and wants to be loved.”

Hero is Le’s first Shakespearean role and watching her castmates develop their characters has been a masterclass in performing the Bard’s work.

“I am the biggest fan of Nicole Berastequi, who plays Beatrice,” Le said. “I’ve learned so much in just watching the way she analyzes text and her performance in general.”

Shawn Gann plays Leonato, Hero’s father. Le relishes playing an emotional scene with him.

“I have never in my career had an Asian American man play my father,” Le said. “It feels like magic to perform with him and process some Asian American grief in that moment just because of the relationship between Leonato and Hero. The father/daughter relationship is very prominent.”

Caleb de la Torre plays Claudio, Hero’s suitor.

“He is a sweetheart angel who makes it so easy to fall in love every night,” Le said.

Linda Blase
Caleb de la Torre as Claudio, Adrian Godinez as Don John, Tommy Stuart as Don Pedro, Shawn Gann as Leonato, Thi Le as Hero, Nicole Berastequi as Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare Dallas.

After her summer at Shakespeare Dallas, Le plans to move to New York City with her husband and dog to pursue acting full-time. She intended to move in 2020, but the pandemic delayed those plans. Having worked in Dallas consistently through 2022 and 2023, she is ready for the challenge.

“It just feels right,” Le said.

Le will miss the supportive tight-knit Dallas theater community, knowing her Texas work has prepared her for the next phase of her career in New York.

“Working in Dallas has taught me so much about my craft and about how important kindness and humility is in this industry because honestly, the job is auditioning. The job is to audition and to put yourself out there and give your heart and soul to people constantly over and over again,” Le said. “Having my start here has been so, so good to be able to learn, to fail, and to grow as a person in a place where I’m comfortable.”

Learn more: Shakespeare Dallas

Contact Us