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November 10, 2015 > Shakespeare musical not your typical Bard

Shakespeare musical not your typical Bard

By Julie Grabowski

If hearing the words ÒShakespeare playÓ make you nervous and uncertain, Douglas Morrisson TheatreÕs (DMT) current production will crumble all of your preconceived notions about what awaits you.

Commissioned in 2013 by The Public Theater in New York, ÒLoveÕs LabourÕs LostÓ is a musical adaptation of the William Shakespeare play that while retaining most of the classic dialogue, injects modern music and lyrics into the story and places it at an upscale resort on the heels of a five-year college reunion. This is where the King of Navarre and his college friends have taken a sacred oath to devote themselves to strict study and self improvement for the next three years with no distractions -- certainly none of the female variety. Alas, four young women arrive to test the menÕs vows and alter the course of their learning.

Under the direction of Lisa Tromovitch, DMT stages the first production of this work in Northern California and does so with great gusto and enjoyment. Scenic designer Martin Flynn provides a remarkably beautiful set, and the six-member live band led by Christopher David Hewitt is a great feature.

The cast is clearly enjoying their work; Lizzie Moss (the Princess), Regina Morones (Rosaline), Jordan Kersten (Maria), and Kaylyn Dowd (Katherine) deliver the fun in ÒHey Boys,Ó and Rio Martinez (Berowne), Nick Sears (the King), Nick Louie (Dumaine), and Chris Cruz (Longaville) make back-to-back evening highlights with ÒGerman Dance,Ó donning black trench coats and full black beards as East German performance artists, and ÒLabour of LoveÓ delivered in boy band style. Act IÕs closing ÒAre You a Man?Ó also makes the hits list.

ÒI Love CatsÓ is an odd but amusing number, mostly for the fact that the live cat (Daniel) clearly does not return the affection of Moth (Amber Sommerfeld). Danny Martin is very appealing as Boyet and captures the focus in ÒBrabant Song.Ó Ronnie Ta–on (Armado) is clearly the vocal star of the show, showing off his talents in ÒJaquenetta.Ó

This hybrid ÒLoveÕs LabourÕs LostÓ is all about the entertainment and is a fast-moving romp. For those looking a little closer, reading a synopsis of the show is helpful as some of the characterÕs roles are unclear (Moth and Boyet are not servants after all) and it helps solidify parts of the storyline. The production can be construed as too lightweight; the proffered romantic affections come off as surfacy and inconsequential, and while the songs are lively and humorous, they all end up blending together and are ultimately forgettable. But if an unexpected night of modern Shakespearian amusement is what youÕre after, ÒLoveÕs LabourÕs LostÓ is your ticket.

Tromovitch says, ÒItÕs a light frothy comedy -- no doubt -- yet underneath, ShakespeareÕs genius offers us the opportunity to reflect on our passage through life. Perhaps itÕs just a gentle reminder to be joyful when we can, and accept sorrow when it comes, and to be reassured that both emotions stem from our ability to love.Ó

LoveÕs LabourÕs Lost
Thursday, Nov 5 - Sunday, Nov 29
8 p.m., matinees at 2 p.m.
Douglas Morrisson Theatre
22311 N Third St, Hayward
(510) 881-6777
Tickets: $29 adult, $24 senior, $21 junior/student

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