By Rahat Hossen
Photo By Allen Morrill
Thiel College’s musical production of William Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, staged April 13-15, had audience members laughing loudly throughout, some as they caught the dialogue’s funny moments and others because of over-the-top acting or a tree played by a person.
Written in 1595 or 1596, Love’s Labour’s Lost may be about a diplomatic meeting between Henry of Navarre (later King Henry IV of France, assassinated 1610) and Catherine de Medici and her daughter, Marguerite de Valois, in 1578. In any case, the characters are all based on political figures from Shakepeare’s life: “Berowne” was based on Charles de Gontaut, due de Biron; “Dumaine” was based on Charles, duc de Mayenne, “Longaville” was based on Henri I d’Orleans, duc de Longueville, and so on.
The musical version performed at Thiel uses original dialogue from Shakespeare’s play, but was adapted by Alex Timbers, with music and lyrics by Michael Friedman, for the 2013 Shakespeare in the Park season for New York City’s Public Theatre. The musical version is shorter than the original version and modernized, at least with the songs and lyrics.
The play mostly centers around the character Spaniard Armado’s (played by an exuberant, even crazed Noah Trimpey) romantic interest in the standoffish Jaquenetta (played by Laura Hardner). Trimpey, in fact, largely stole the show with the physical gestures, postures, expressions, voice and unbuttoned shirt flapping open throughout.
But this musical also is about romance and sexual interest among young people generally, young people maturing and dealing with adult issues, the role of their parents in their lives, masculinity (“Young Men” and “Are You a Man?” among others), and even academia (the name of another song). Just for fun, the musical’s fifth song, “I love cats,” is about loving cats, and suggests to even stiff viewers that they should not take any of it too seriously.
The show ran almost exactly 90 minutes without intermission and move along nicely throughout.
The play was directed by Dr. Pete Rydberg, with Katie Greig as Music Director/Accompanist, Marjorie Rapp as Choreographer, Fran Comstock as Technical Director, costume design by Jacob Crawl, sound design by Dakota Ober, prop design by Ashley Kosar, and hair and makeup by Aminah Caroll.
Other musicians were Dr. Julie Neish, Keyboard II; Jesse Wold, guitar; Jaime Harper, cello; and Prof. Andy Erb, drums.