Shakespeare in Love, a Lush and Lavish Romantic Feast at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tina Slak • 610.282.WILL, ext. 4
tina.slak@pashakespeare.org

July 6, 2018

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival presents Lee Hall’s stage adaptation of Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard’s highly acclaimed Academy Award-winning screenplay Shakespeare in Love.

The most widely produced play in the nation this season, Shakespeare in Love makes its Pennsylvania premiere with previews on July 11 and 12, and opens on July 13 on the Main Stage through August 5 at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University.

The story follows a young Will Shakespeare who is stumped by a crippling case of writer’s block. Unbeknownst to him, his muse is waiting in the wings­—enter Viola De Lesseps, a theatre-loving aristocrat soon to be married off, and unwilling to accept her fate, she daringly dresses as a boy-player to win the role of Romeo in Will’s new play. As the two fall in love, a romantic comedy of errors unfurls that ultimately inspires the creation of Shakespeare’s tragic romantic masterpiece.

Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy returns to the director’s chair for the first non-Shakespeare production he has directed at the Festival. Mulcahy also brings his skills as a Broadway fight choreographer to the production’s scenes of swashbuckling swordplay.

“I’m a fan of the playwright Tom Stoppard, who was one of the screenwriters on the film, and his wit and invention is a great match for this epic romance that has everything,” says Mulcahy.

“As rehearsals approached, I felt a sense of joy around directing Shakespeare in Love. Then I realized why: it’s also the first comedy I’ve directed after a string of tragedies. Directing Hamlet, Macbeth and Julius Caesar were deeply satisfying, but the shift in tone is refreshing.”

Luigi Sottile will star in the lead role of Will Shakespeare opposite Mairin Lee as Viola De Lesseps. The pair was last seen together in PSF’s 2017 production of Troilus and Cressida.

Sottile’s PSF credits include Hector in last season’s Troilus and Cressida and Valentine in the The Two Gentlemen of Verona (2014). Recent credits include The Way of the World (Folger Theatre); Shakespeare in Love, The Tempest and Othello at Chicago Shakespeare Theater; and Much Ado About Nothing and The Three Musketeers at Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Lee’s PSF credits include Troilus and Cressida (Cressida), Pride and Prejudice (Elizabeth Bennet), and Hamlet (Ophelia). Lee has performed in the Broadway production of The Heiress (Walter Kerr Theatre); Off-Broadway credits include She Stoops to Conquer (The Actors Company Theatre) and The Winter’s Tale and Measure for Measure at New York Classical Theatre.

The cast includes Justin Adams as Shakespeare’s talented colleague and friend Kit Marlowe; Starla Benford as the indomitable Queen Elizabeth I; Christopher Coucill as loan shark-turned-producer Fennyman; Christian Coulson (featured actor from the Harry Potter film series) as Viola’s insufferable fiancé Lord Wessex; Christopher Patrick Mullen as theatrical entrepreneur Richard Burbage; Brandon J. Pierce as famous thespian Ned Alleyn; Jo Twiss as Viola’s abetting nurse; Wayne Turney in multiple roles including The Lord Chamberlain, Edmund Tilney; and Richard B. Watson as rival theatre manager Philip Henslowe.

The cast of Shakespeare in Love will play in repertory with King Richard II, with the same cast alternating performances daily. This is the 8th season PSF is offering plays in repertory.

This production will also be a lavish musical experience featuring live musicians playing over 20 instruments and original music composed by Paddy Cunneen for the West End production, and music directed by Liz Filios, also the production’s sound designer.

 “It’s a very musical production of Shakespeare in Love, with a special score played by some top-notch musicians, some of whom are experts in Renaissance and Early European Music,” says Filios. “Some of the more colorful and unique period instruments in the show are the Hurdy Gurdy, Gemshorn, Crumhorn, and the Ocarina.”

Rounding out the creative team for Shakespeare in Love are Daniel Conway (scenic design), Lisa Zinni (costume design), Eric T. Haugen (lighting design), Erin Sheffield (Dance Choreographer), and Alison Hassman (Production Stage Manager).

“Comedy, love, and a bit with a dog!” Introducing Buddy Igor, a 16 month-old English Cream Golden Retriever making his stage debut as Spot in Shakespeare in Love. This is the Festival’s second experience working with a dog in a production and the casting agent in this case is Ali Brown, owner and dog trainer at Great Companions in Slatington.

“Buddy is amazing, a dream. Ali at Great Companions put us in touch with Buddy’s owners because he is so friendly and smart. (He learns his lines really quickly.),” says director Mulcahy. “The rehearsal room is a very happy place with Buddy in it and the actors come in each day asking, ‘will we get to see Buddy today?’”

Buddy enjoys playing tug, playing chase tag (really keep away), and learning scent detective skills. His favorite toy is his snuggle pup that he has had since he came home at eight weeks and he still takes to bed every night. He resides in Schnecksville with his human family.

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s 27th season also features William Shakespeare’s popular comedy Twelfth Night now through July 15, Shakespeare’s epic King Richard II (in repertory with Shakespeare in Love), and an actor-driven production of Shakespeare’s spirited and bittersweet comedy All’s Well That Ends Well

Now through August 4, children’s programming continues in the Schubert Theatre with Alice in Wonderland and, celebrating its ten-year anniversary, PSF’s Shakespeare for Kids: a one-hour production designed for pre-school and elementary age students to actively experience Shakespeare’s vibrant language and characters. Presented on the Main Stage, July 25 through August 4.

For one night only, Dan Domenech returns to PSF after a successful run in last summer’s hit Evita. Bootleg Famous: To Broadway and Beyond, a showcase of songs and stories from his 16-year career spanning Broadway, world tours, and unintentional internet theater fame on Monday, July 30 at 7:30pm.

The 2018 Festival Season Sponsors are Keith and Stefanie Wexler. The Associate Season Sponsors are Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, Kathleen Kund Noland and Timothy E. Nolan, the Szarko family, and Harry C. Trexler Trust. The Production Sponsor for Shakespeare in Love is Breslin Ridyard Fadero Architects.

The season will run to August 5 at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the bucolic Center Valley campus of DeSales University.

Single tickets start at $25 and can be purchased online at www.pashakespeare.org or by calling the box office at 610.282.WILL [9455].

About Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy, is the only professional Equity theatre of its scope and scale within a 50-mile radius. PSF is one of only a handful of theatres on the continent producing Shakespeare, musicals, classics, and contemporary plays, all of which can all be seen in rep and in multiple spaces within a few visits in a single summer season. Similarly, PSF will be among just a handful of theatres on the continent this summer to produce three Shakespeare plays in a single summer season.  A patron would have to travel seven to nine hours from PSF to find a comparable range of offerings at a single theatre within a few weeks’ time.

The Festival’s award-winning company of many world-class artists includes Broadway, film, and television veterans, and winners and nominees of the Tony, Emmy, Obie, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Jefferson, Hayes, Lortel, and Barrymore awards. A leading Shakespeare theatre with a national reputation for excellence, PSF has received coverage in The Washington Post, NPR, American Theatre Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and in recent seasons The New York Times has identified PSF as one of the leading summer theatre festivals in the nation. “A world-class theater experience on a par with the top Bard fests,” is how one New York Drama Desk reviewer characterized PSF.

Founded in 1992 and the Official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, PSF’s mission is to enrich, inspire, engage, and entertain the widest possible audience through first-rate productions of classical and contemporary plays, with a core commitment to Shakespeare and other master dramatists, and through an array of education and mentorship programs. A not-for-profit theatre, PSF receives significant support from its host, DeSales University, from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. With 150 performances of seven productions, the Festival attracts patrons each summer from 30+ states. In 26 years, PSF has offered 161 total productions (69 Shakespeare), and entertained 900,000+ patrons from 50 states, now averaging 38,000+ in attendance each summer season, plus another 15,000 students each year through its WillPower Tour. PSF is a multi-year recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts: Shakespeare in American Communities, and is a constituent of Theatre Communications Group, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and the Shakespeare Theatre Association. In 2013, leaders of the world’s premier Shakespeare theatres gathered at PSF as the Festival hosted the international STA Conference.

The Festival’s vision is for world-class work.

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BIOS:
* Indicates a member of Actor’s Equity:

LUIGI SOTTILE* (William Shakespeare) was last seen at PSF in Troilus And Cressida (Hector) and The Two Gentlemen Of Verona (Valentine). A PA native and current Chicago resident, some credits include: The Book of Will (Northlight Theatre); Shakespeare in Love, Othello, The Tempest (Chicago Shakespeare); Buena Vista (Steppenwolf); The Cherry Orchard, Nathan The Wise (People’s Light); Three Sisters, Cyrano (Arden); Angels In America Parts I & II, In The Next Room Or The Vibrator Play (Wilma); An Ideal Husband (Walnut Street Theatre); Seminar (Philadelphia Theatre Co.); The Lonesome West, Hothouse (Lantern); and The Mystery of Irma Vep (Act II Playhouse). Other regional: The Way of the World (Folger Theatre); Zombie: The American (Woolly Mammoth); Sex With Strangers (Signature Theatre, DC); Three Musketeers, Much Ado About Nothing (Utah Shakespeare Fest.);and A Christmas Carol (Milwaukee Rep).

MAIRIN LEE* (Viola De Lesseps) has performed at PSF in Troilus and Cressida, Pride and Prejudice, and Hamlet. Broadway: The Heiress; Off-Broadway: The Actors Company Theatre, Ars Nova, Wheelhouse Theatre, NY Classical; Regional: American Conservatory Theater, McCarter, Two River, Wilma, Premiere Stages, and California Shakespeare Theater, among others; TV: Madam SecretaryThe Good Wife, Elementary; Film: Marcy, Ascension, Zero Issue, and Mortem Di Virgo. MFA from A.C.T. This fall she is co-producing Romeo and Juliet in Oakland, CA. rjoakland.com

JUSTIN ADAMS* (Kit Marlowe) New York: Don Juan (title role), The Pearl Theatre; The Little Shubert, The Acting Company, Drama League’s DirectorFest, HERE Studios, 13th Street Rep, Storm Theatre. Regional: Nicholas Nickleby, (title role), PlayMakers Rep; Amadeus (title role), Northern Stage; Hamlet (title role), PSF; Westport Country Playhouse, Cincinnati Playhouse, Alliance Theatre, Denver Center, Folger Theatre, Portland Stage, Clarence Brown Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, Alabama and Texas Shakespeare Festivals; Film/TV: Elementary, The Affair, Unforgettable, Blue Bloods, The Cask, Independence: Beyond What She Expects, Radio Cape Cod. Training: The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

STARLA BENFORD* (Queen Elizabeth) Broadway/Off-Broadway: The Little Foxes (MTC), A Streetcar Named Desire (Studio 54), Macbeth (Music Box), The Vagina Monologues (National Tour/League of Broadway Theatre/Best Actress nomination), Our Lady of Kibeho (Signature Theatre);  Other: Old Globe, Arena Stage, Guthrie Theater, Yale Rep, ART, Shakespeare & Co., Folger Theatre, Abbey Theatre in Ireland; Film/TV: Half Nelson, Delivery Man, A Perfect Murder, United 93, Law & Order, Person of Interest, Nurse Jackie, Madame Secretary, and The Affair.

CHRISTOPHER COUCILL* (Fennyman). PSF: Man of La Mancha, King Lear, 1776, Hamlet, Sweeney Todd; Broadway: The Graduate, Kiss Me Kate, Annie Get Your Gun; Philadelphia: Body Awareness (The Wilma), Crazy for You (The Forrest), Annie Get Your Gun (The Prince), Silverhill (InterAct); Regional: McCarter, Arena Stage, Hartford Stage, Shakespeare & Company, The Huntington, Boston Shakespeare Company, Dallas Theatre Center, and many others; TV: Deadline, Law & Order, One Life to Live, O Pioneers!, Margaret Mead: An Observer Observed.

CHRISTIAN COULSON* (Lord Wessex) Theater: Constellations (The Old Globe), The Changeling (Red Bull Theatre), Everything You Touch (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater), Hedda Gabler (Palimpsest, London), A Picture of Autumn (Mint Theater), Travesties (McCarter), Dutch Masters (Berkshire Theatre Festival), Rumble Ghost (PS122), Ghosts (London’s Gate Theatre), Festen (UK national tour), Journey’s End (West End), Romeo and Juliet (Liverpool Playhouse). Film: Bite Me, Peter & John, Love is Strange, Those Who Wander, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Gayby, Leaving Circadia, I am Nasrine, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, The Hours, Four Feathers. TV: Nashville, Mozart in the Jungle, Eye Candy, Nurse Jackie, The Good Wife, Gossip Girl, Miss Marple, Charles II, Little Britain, Hornblower, Forsyte Saga, Love in a Cold Climate.

CHRISTOPHER PATRICK MULLEN* (Richard Burbage) Work with PSF since 1992 includes Loves Labours Lost, Julius Caesar, Pericles, Charleys Aunt, Hamlet, The Mystery of Irma Vep, The Glass Menagerie, Twelfth Night, Dracula..., and 20 other productions; Other credits include West Side Story (1st National Tour); The Runner Stumbles (Off-Broadway); Cabaret, Metamorphoses, Macbeth, A Little Night Music, Candide, and Assassins (Arden Theatre). He is a member of Retro Productions (NYC) and a People’s Light veteran of over 30 productions since 1989.TV: Law & Order.

BRANDON J. PIERCE* (Ned Alleyn) Off-Broadway: Exit Strategy (Primary Stages); Regional: Welcome to Fear City (KC Rep), Troilus and Cressida, The Taming of the Shrew (PSF), A Midsummer Night’s Dream,Metamorphoses,Peter PanCharlottes Web (Arden Theatre), The City of Conversation (Delaware Theater), Dutch Masters (Azuka Theatre),Comedy of Errors, Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare LIVE! - The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey), Fair Maid of the West (Philadelphia Artists’ Collective); Education: BFA University of the Arts.

RICHARD B. WATSON* (Philip Henslowe) Favorite roles: John Adams, 1776, Dr. Carrasco, Man of La Mancha; Henry Higgins, My Fair Lady; Zach, A Chorus Line. Theaters: Orlando, Hampton, Georgia, and Milwaukee Shakespeare Companies, Arkansas Rep, Ensemble Studio Theater, Irish Rep, Asolo Rep, Pioneer, American Stage, The Muny and Disney World. Shakespeare: Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V, Henry VIII, Romeo & Juliet, Richard III, King John, Hamlet, King Lear, Pericles, Othello, Winter’s Tale, Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing and Titus Andronicus. Film/TV: PS, I Love You; Law & Order CI; Delocated; Onion Sports Network; Art=(Love)²; and a pilot, Powerless, for FX. MFA from the Academy for Classical Acting.

JO TWISS* (Viola’s Nurse) She has been seen here most notably in Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, Much Ado About Nothing, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Recent credits include the musicals: The Producers and the world premiere of Lights Out, Nat King Cole. Jo was on Broadway in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and can be seen most recently on TV in The Affair, Seven Seconds, House of Cards and the pigeon lady in The Amazing Kimmy Schmidt.

WAYNE S. TURNEY* (Edmund Tilney, Sir Robert De Lesseps, Boatman) is a Professor with the theatre faculty at DeSales University, where he directed the recent production of his own “transladaptation” of Sophokles’ Elektra. A regular with PSF, Turney came to do Argan in The Imaginary Invalid and stayed on to play myriad old men, most recently Exeter in Henry V. Turney has appeared with the Great Lakes Theatre Festival, Actors’ Summit, Cleveland Play House, Actors Theatre of Louisville and many others. He won an Emmy for his work on NBC’s Hickory Hideout and piloted EC-135’s in the USAF.

CREATIVE TEAM:

DANIEL CONWAY (Scenic Designer) Recent projects include: Penn and Teller on Broadway; Queens for a Year, for Hartford Stage; Jelly’s Last Jam for Signature Theatre; The Tempest for American Repertory Theater, Chicago Shakespeare, and South Coast Repertory theatres; Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike for Arena Stage; American Song, for Milwaukee Rep; The Games Afoot for the Cleveland Playhouse; Company, Hairspray, Chess, and Sunset Boulevard for The Signature Theatre; Sabrina Fair for Ford’s Theatre and Merry Wives of Windsor for The Shakespeare Theatre. Nominated for Washington, D.C’s Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Set Design thirteen times, he received the award in 2000, 2009, 2015 and most recently in 2017 for Stunning, for Woolly Mammoth Theatre. His design for The Tempest was nominated for the Boston and L.A. Theatre Critics Award. 

ERIC T. HAUGEN (Lighting Designer, Ragtime, Shake in Love, Richard II) in recent seasons, has designed the lighting for some of the more memorable PSF productions such as: Evita, West Side Story, Les Misérables, Fiddler, Oklahoma!, Sweeney Todd, South Pacific, Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker, King Lear, Amadeus, and My Fair Lady, among others. His theatrical lighting has been seen Off-Broadway and in regional theatres across the country. Eric’s Orlando based company, Luminous Design Studios, provides lighting designs for television, themed entertainment, and architectural projects worldwide.

LIZ FILIOS (Music Director, Composer and Sound Designer, Shake In Love) is a Philadelphia based actor, musician, composer and sound designer. She designed PSF’s WillPower Tour of Hamlet in 2016, and The Ice Princess in 2017. Regional: Arden Theatre, Wilma Theatre, Folger Theatre, Philadelphia Orchestra, Walnut Street Theatre, Lantern Theatre, Inis Nua, People’s Light, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Delaware Theatre Company, Act II Playhouse, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Applied Mechanics, Theatre Horizon, The Bearded Ladies Cabaret, South Coast Rep, Cape Town Opera, and Teatro Avvaloranti. BFA Musical Theatre, University of Michigan.

ALISON HASSMAN* (Production Stage Manager, Shake in Love and Richard II) New York: Hamilton, The Nutcracker (New York City Ballet, Lincoln Center), Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, A Gentleman and His Ladies (Roundabout, with Alan Cumming), Cherry Lane, Westside Theatre, 59E59, the York, 24 Hour Play Company. Regional: Resident Stage Manager at Delaware Theatre Company. McCarter, Two River, Theater Horizon, Trinity Rep, Bristol Riverside, Premiere Stages, Philadelphia Theatre Company. 

ERIN SHEFFIELD (Playwright, S4K; Choreographer, Shake in Love) celebrates the 10th Anniversary of S4K and her 19th season with PSF.  Directing at PSF: Pride and Prejudice, Rapunzel, 20 assorted children’s shows, WillPower Tours and Green Shows. Erin was the Education Director at PSF 2006-2011, taught at DeSales and directed for Act 1.  Member of Actors’ Equity Association. Favorite roles: Viola, Twelfth Night at PSF, Anne of Green Gables (Barrymore nomination), People’s Light where she is the Executive Associate; MFA: Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House.  Proud grad of DeSales University.

LISA ZINNI (Costume Designer) She designed last season’s Evita and The Hound of the Baskervilles. Other PSF favorites include: Les Misérables, Macbeth, Sweeney Todd, The Importance of Being Earnest, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and The 39 Steps; Other Design venues include: Walnut Street Theatre, The Arden, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Orlando Shakespeare, Two River Shakespeare, Riverside Theatre Vero, The Cape Playhouse and 59E59; Broadway Credits include: Associate Costume Designer for School of Rock, Cats, An American In Paris, The Play That Goes Wrong, The Glass Menagerie, Rent, Hair and worked most recently on this seasons SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical

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