‘Love’s Labour’s Lost: The Musical’ gears up for second slate of showings

By Brad Brown, Contributing Writer

With a bong and female blow-up doll in hand, the spotlight cast upon four well-dressed men, setting the mood for Shakespeare’s abridged version of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” to the tightly-packed crowd at the University Theatre.
“This is not your granddad’s Shakespeare.” A statement made by the musical’s director Jeff Sanders that accurately lived up to billing.

“Love’s Labour’s Lost: The Musical” performed to a packed audience in the University Theatre on March 5. Shakespeare’s characters were shown in a new, singing and dancing, but still ever-dramatic, light. The theater program’s winter production received an ovation of wild cheers as the musical ever so theatrically ended.

Set in a present-day courtyard in an upscale resort hotel and spa immediately outside a college campus, the cast comes together for a five-year college reunion.

Setting the theme of the entire show, the coming-of-age story began with The King and his three companions vowing to swear off the joys of women to study and fast. But shortly after, four cute, clever girls show up and test the young men’s integrity and sanity.

The musical was originally produced two years ago by Michael Friedman and Alex Timbers, two highly-acclaimed directors and composers, for New York’s “Shakespeare in the Park” festival. To make Shakespeare’s words from 1597 more digestible for contemporary audiences, tempo, rhythm and music were added, while remaining true to Shakespeare’s original values.

Nearly every scene was filled with quips and jokes that were constantly met with laughter from the receptive audience. Shakespeare’s original text seamlessly mingles with present-day concepts of the college experience, tailored largely to the student audience. “It’s interesting how Shakespeare’s text and the contemporary lyric are woven into a way that works,” said Sanders. “I think that’s the great trick of this play.”

Created by students, the set was simple but effective, utilizing depth, platforms and hiding places for characters to eavesdrop on conversations. A two-tiered house was set in the background with doors for hilarious entrances and a central platform from which characters would serenade and display their inner feeling of love.

The largely static set was showed off and accommodated by new lighting instruments, which set the mood for scenes and provided dramatic spotlights. The cast dressed in intricate costumes ranging from tuxedos and dresses to Hawaiian clothing and bathrobes.

Auditions began in early December with rehearsals starting on Jan. 4. From the cast to the artistic staff, orchestra and crew, the production is largely put on the shoulders of students.
“It’s a massive undertaking,” said Sanders. “So many people are putting in so much in such a unified goal of telling a great story.”

All the months of preparation from students and faculty members were revealed last weekend from March 4 to March 6. For those who missed the first showing, a second slate of showings will run from March 10 through March 12. The March 10 performance begins at 5 p.m. and the March 11 and March 12 performances begin at 7:30 p.m.