Shakespeare in Love at South Coast Rep

Photo credit: Jordan Kubat

Humor, Romance Abound in Shakespeare in Love at South Coast Repertory
"Shall I Compare Thee to a...Something?"

Corey appears in his sixth play at South Coast Rep in the role of Kit Marlowe in Shakespeare in Love.


COSTA MESA, Calif. —Romance, mistaken identities, ruthless scheming and backstage theatrics—served up with a generous dash of comedy—are at the heart of Shakespeare in Love, adapted by Lee Hall from the Oscar-winning film written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, with music by Paddy Cunneen. South Coast Repertory Artistic Director Marc Masterson directs the production on the Segerstrom Stage, Jan. 13-Feb. 10. Tickets are now on sale:

“This is an epic love story about one of the greatest writers of love stories in the English language,” said Masterson. “It’s exciting to bring Shakespeare to life as a character in a play, because most of what we know about him is imagined. To see his character—his vulnerabilities, his sense of humor, his struggles with creativity, his ability to find inspiration and fall in love—come to life in this context offers a great way to humanize him.”

The story follows young Will Shakespeare (portrayed by Paul David Story), who is desperate. He has writer’s block and owes a new comedy to two demanding producers; what he has at the moment is a half-baked mess titled Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter. Enter his inspiration: Viola (Carmela Corbett). Smart, beautiful and Will’s greatest admirer, she will stop at nothing—including breaking the law—to be in his play. As their love blossoms, so does his greatest masterpiece.

Playwright Hall said, in an interview with The Telegraph, that Shakespeare in Love is about “love, loss, creativity, money, power, politics and slipping on banana skins. At its heart it’s a comedy and, I hope, a good night out. You could be a professor of Shakespeare or never have seen a Shakespeare play in your life and understand it. It opens its arms to everybody.”

Hall was a writer-in-residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1999. His adaptation of Goldoni’s The Servant with Two Masters was first staged at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1999. He also wrote the screenplay for Billy Elliot (1999), directed by Stephen Daldry, and received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. He co-wrote the screenplay for the film Pride and Prejudice in 2005 and adapted The Wind in the Willows for television in 2006.

Masterson said the ambitious scope of the production is compelling for him: the large cast, period costumes and the challenge of bringing it all together on stage.

In addition to Story and Corbett, the cast includes Ricky Abilez, Corey Brill, Bill Brochtrup, Stephen Caffrey, Alicia Erlinger, Bo Foxworth, Nick Gabriel, Matthew Henerson, Louis Lotorto, James MacEwan, Aaron McGee, William Francis McGuire, Elyse Mirto, Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper, David Nevell, Bing Putney, Adam Silver, Amelia White and Fleur Zanna, with musicians Alexander “Lex” Leigh and Scott Waara.

The design and creative team includes Ralph Funicello, scenic design; Susan Tsu, costume design; Jaymi Lee Smith, lighting design; Jeff Polunas, sound design; Annie Loui, choreography; Scott Waara, music director; David Nevell, vocal and dialect coach; Ken Merckx, fight director; and Joanne DeNaut, CSA, casting. The production manager is Joshua Marchesi, and the stage manager is Roxana Khan.