Chicago—Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) brings to the stage one of the most popular romantic films of all time, Shakespeare in Love—in an enchanting, music-filled theatrical event staged by acclaimed director Rachel Rockwell. Based on the Academy Award-winner for Best Picture with screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, Shakespeare in Love is adapted for the stage by Tony and Olivier Award-winner Lee Hall. Culminating the Theater’s 30th Anniversary Season, this high-spirited romantic comedy is magnificently rendered onstage in the magical intimacy of Chicago Shakespeare’s Courtyard Theater, April 15–June 11, 2017.
The play’s world premiere in London’s West End was hailed as “a big-hearted hit” (Variety). The Telegraph proclaimed, “this inventive and touching comedy seems like a joyous celebration of the possibilities of theatre itself!” Now audiences will fall head over heels for this epic romance in a highly anticipated production at Chicago Shakespeare.
Young playwright Will Shakespeare is stuck. He is overdue in finishing his latest play—a half-baked mess of a comedy called Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter. He finds a muse in Viola de Lesseps, a clever beauty who will do anything—even disguise herself as a man—to audition for the stage, where no women are permitted to perform. Backstage antics meet onstage dramas surrounded by familiar players, including Queen Elizabeth herself. Will and Viola’s passionate, forbidden love affair goes on to inspire Shakespeare’s masterpiece—the most romantic tragedy ever written.
Shakespeare in Love is directed by multiple Jeff Award-winner and Chicago favorite Rachel Rockwell. Rockwell most recently directed CST’s runaway hit Ride the Cyclone in 2015, and went on to stage the musical off-Broadway—a production that was featured on the “Best Theatre of 2016” list by The New York Times. In addition to 10 previous productions at Chicago Shakespeare, Rockwell has also directed and choreographed celebrated plays and musicals at Goodman Theatre, The Marriott Theatre and Drury Lane Oakbrook.
Leading the company are Nick Rehberger as the dashing young playwright William Shakespeare and Kate McGonigle as the clever and charismatic Viola de Lesseps. Rehberger makes his Chicago debut fresh from Broadway after closing the celebrated revival of Fiddler on the Roof, in which he played the Russian soldier Fyedka. McGonigle recently performed off-Broadway in Signature Theatre’s What I Did Last Summer, and appeared alongside Emma Stone in Woody Allen’s film Irrational Man.
Michael Perez performs the role of Kit Marlowe, a friendly rival of Shakespeare and a talented playwright in his own right. Perez has appeared frequently at American Players Theatre, Writers Theatre and Goodman Theatre, and is a stakeholder in Chicago’s Backroom Shakespeare Project. Larry Yando plays Henslowe, the debt-ridden owner of the Rose Theatre who hopes Shakespeare will write his next big hit. Yando has graced the Chicago Shakespeare stage over 20 times, including most recently in the two-part Tug of War saga, The Tempest and King Lear. Timothy D. Stickney appears in the role of Burbage, England’s most distinguished actor who is often at odds with Shakespeare and Marlowe. A longtime Shakespearean performer with credits at The Public Theatre, The Old Globe and Stratford Festival, Stickney is also known for playing the recurring character R.J. Gannon on ABC’s One Life to Live for nearly 15 years.
Linda Reiter takes the stage as Queen Elizabeth. Dennis Grimes plays Viola’s intended groom Lord Wessex, who seeks to marry her dowry. Prominent members of Shakespeare’s acting troupe include: Luigi Sottile (Ned Alleyn), Scott Danielson (Wabash), Fred Geyer (Adam), Ron King (Ralph), Ryan McBride (Robin), Andrew Mueller (Nol) and Jake Helm (John Webster). Also featured in the cast are Jerre Dye, Alana Grossman, Jeff Kurysz and Catherine Smitko.
Rescue dog Dash makes his stage debut as Spot, a canine member of Shakespeare’s acting troupe who performs in Queen Elizabeth’s favorite play The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Award-winning composer Neil Bartram creates original music scoring for Shakespeare in Love, and serves as the production’s Music Director. Along with collaborator Brian Hill, Bartram has composed music and lyrics for Broadway’s The Story of My Life (Drama Desk nomination) and the Chicago Shakespeare-commissioned The Adventures of Pinocchio.
The bustling creative center of Shakespeare’s Elizabethan England—a time when the theater was a populist pleasure for queens and commoners alike—sets the scene, with scenic design by Scott Davis and costume design by Susan Mickey. Davis has created settings for over 25 Chicago Shakespeare productions, including most recently The Book of Joseph and the Tug of War marathon. Jeff Award-winning designer Mickey is best known for her sumptuous and playful costumes—exemplified in her previous CST designs for Tug of War, Sense and Sensibility and The School for Lies. Mickey is joined by Chicago Shakespeare’s resident Wig and Make-up Designer Richard Jarvie to complete the character’s appearances. Lighting Designer Robert Weirzel has designed extensively for theater, opera and dance—on- and off-Broadway and around the world. Four-time Jeff Award-winner Ray Nardelli is sound designer, in his eleventh Chicago Shakespeare production. Completing the creative team are Jo Cattell as Associate Director, Matt Hawkins as Fight Choreographer and Eva Breneman as Dialect Coach.
For more information, visit www.chicagoshakes.com/shakespeareinlove.
Shakespeare in Love will be performed at Chicago Shakespeare Theater April 15–June 11, 2017. Tickets are on sale now for $48–$88 (subject to change). Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more, as well as CST for $20 tickets available for patrons under 35. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website.
CST strives to make its facility and performances accessible to all patrons through its Access Shakespeare programs. Shakespeare in Love will have an Audio-described performance on Sunday, May 7 at 2:00 p.m. (with optional touch tour at 12:00 p.m.); Open-captioned performances on Thursday, May 11 at 1:00 p.m. and Friday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m.; and an ASL Duo-interpreted performance on Friday, May 19 at 7:30 p.m.
ABOUT CHICAGO SHAKESPEARE THEATER
Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) is a leading international theater company and the recipient of the Regional Theatre Tony Award®. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, CST is dedicated to creating extraordinary production of classics, new works and family programming; to unlocking Shakespeare’s work for educators and students; and to serving as Chicago’s cultural ambassador through its World’s Stage Series. Through a year-round season encompassing more than 650 performances, CST attracts 225,000 audience members annually. One in four of its audience members is under eighteen years old, and today its education programs have impacted the learning of over one million students. CST is proud to take an active role in empowering the next generation of literate, engaged cultural champions and creative minds. During 2016, CST spearheaded the Shakespeare 400 Chicago festival in addition to announcing the creation of an innovative performance venue, The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare.