Play about young Shakespeare comes to Royall Tyler

Alicia Wolfram, Staff Writer

Filled with singing, dancing and swordfights, “Shakespeare in Love” is hitting the UVM stage.

UVM’s Royall Tyler Theatre department is putting on “Shakespeare in Love” at the end of the month.

The show tells the story of how a young William Shakespeare, struggling with writer’s block, finds inspiration for his masterpiece “Romeo and Juliet” when he falls in love with a woman named Viola.

The show is directed by Craig Wells, UVM theater professor and former Broadway actor.

The cast began rehearsing the weekend before classes started this semester and have been meeting every week Monday through Friday for four hours a night and every Saturday for five hours.

With 18 people, the cast is larger than usual for a UVM performance.  This brought along some new challenges for Wells as a director.

The show was originally written for 21 people, with a cast of four women and 17 men.  Wells decided to alter the cast breakdown in order to create an equal gender distribution.

“I wanted to cast the show in a way that just made gender not a main directive,” he said.

The cast has nine men and nine women, with women playing men and men playing women.

The play itself is about a woman who wanted to act but was unable to because it was illegal for women to perform in 1593.

“By actually having women playing men in our production, it continues to play off of that theme,” Wells said.

Senior Anna Cataldo plays Philip Henslowe, the owner of the theater that puts on Shakespeare’s plays.

“The show is really fast moving and keeps your attention the whole time, and we have some really incredibly talented singers in the show,” she said.

Sophomore Kyra Gillespie plays Viola, Shakespeare’s love interest and muse to write “Romeo and Juliet.”

This is her first main stage performance.

“Becoming Voila and diving into her character has been really interesting, because there is so much more than just the dialogue,” she said. “You have to create the whole identity to make it believable.”

At many schools you can’t really be involved unless you’re a theater major, and a lot of schools that have Bachelor of Fine Arts programs only give parts to junior and seniors, Wells said.

But at UVM, you do not have to be a theater major or minor to participate in any of the shows.

Wells, and both Cataldo and Gillespie, encouraged people to see the show.

“It’s funny and romantic, and it’s sort of a love letter to the creative process of theater,” Wells said.

Shows will run 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26-29 and 2 p.m. Feb. 29 and March 1.  Tickets are $10 with a student ID.