One of Shakespeare’s early comedies, “Love’s Labour’s Lost” opened May 7 in the Spencer Theatre on the University of Missouri at Kansas City (UMKC) campus with a strong performance by the school’s drama students, complete with new music, a contemporary adaptation, marvelous acting, and continued laughter throughout the two-act play.
The astounding production is absolutely magnificent with a modern adaptation and concept that makes the Bard seem easy for everyone to understand and enjoy. The rendition reminds of slapstick comedy and features a wealth of UMKC students who are enrolled in the drama program. Some are completing their MFA degrees and graduate this month.
This show deserves sell out crowds for an audience. “Love’s Labour’s Lost” only runs this weekend. Make plans. Go see it. The show runs for only five more performances at 7:30 p.m. through May 11, 2014 at the Spencer Theatre, Olson Performing Arts Center on the UMKC campus.
The production closes UMKC’s Theatre season with a classic tale of romance and comic appeal with “Love’s Labour’s Lost.” They brought esteemed director, Edward Stern, retired Artistic Director from the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park to hone the students’ skills and provide the experience of working with a renowned out-of-town director. Previews ran May 2-6 with opening night on May 7 at 7:30 p.m. Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
“I love the youthfulness of this play. Not just the youthfulness of the playwright remarkably finding his footing, but how many young characters there are in this play,” Stern said. “Love's Labour's Lost’ is a perfect blend of comedy, romance, and drama and wonderfully suited for the excellent actors at UMKC Theatre,” Stern said.
Stern, who retired from the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (PIP) in 2012 after 20 years of award-winning work, is credited for turning around PIP and transforming the theatre into a financially healthy venue with national acclaim, a spokesman for UMKC theater said.
Written for an audience with Queen Elizabeth, “Love’s Labour’s Lost” was far from Shakespeare’s most favored works. And while it was not performed much in the 19th century, it has become popular material today with several adaptations and productions including the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, UMKC said.
“Love's Labour's Lost’ is one of William Shakespeare's early comedies, believed to have been written in the mid-1590s for a performance at the Inns of Court before Queen Elizabeth,” according to program notes for the production. “Though first published in 1598, the play's title page suggests a revision of an earlier version of the play. While there are no obvious sources for the play's plot, the four main characters are loosely based on historical figures. The use of apostrophes in the play's title varies in early editions, though it is most commonly given as ‘Love's Labour's Lost.”
The play begins with the King Ferdinand of Navarre and his three noble companions taking an oath to devote themselves to three years of study, promising not to give in to the company of women----then the girls arrive and they all fall comically in love. “Love's Labour's Lost” is full of sophisticated wordplay, puns, and literary allusions that will enchant audiences.
The cast of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” features the lead characters: Vincent Wagner (King Ferdinand), Jessica Jensen (Princess), Logan Black (Berowne), Jamie Dufault (Dumaine), Antonio Glass (Longaville), Laura Jacobs (Rosaline), Marianne McKenzie (Maria), Jenny Ward (Katherine), and Janae Mitchell (Jaquenetta).
As far as the acting, accolades go to the tremendous talent assembled for the production. Stern selected the strongest actors to play some of the most humorous characters in a Shakespearean play. Most noted for their performances were: Jensen, Black, Jacobs of the central characters. Of the supporting cast, Nick Papamihalakis and Michael R. Pauley specifically stood out.
Even though some of the leads stand out as do some of the supporting characters, suffice it to say there is not a weak performance amongst the cast. The show was almost flawless. The action kept moving and the audience had to turn in their seats, at times, to follow the action. And, action took place all over the stage.
The set was beautifully designed and created. The concept made the audience feel a part of the show. The original music was fun and appropriate and the band became part of the production.
In addition to Ed Stern, the design and production team includes Matt Mott (Scenic Designer), Kate Mott (Costume Designer), Kyle Coyer (Lighting Designer), Alex Glamyan (Sound Designer and Composer), and Stephanie Demaree (Production Dramaturg). The Production Stage Manager is Laura Cheyne and Technical Director is Patti Goebel.
The cast is: Jessica Jensen, Princess; Logan Black, Berowne; Spencer Christensen, Boyet; Jamie Dufault, Dumaine; Joseph Fournier, Nathaniel; Antonio Glass, Longaville; Nicole Greenberg, Moth; Laura Jacobs, Rosaline; Frank Lillig , Marcade; Marianne McKenzie, Maria; Janae Mitchell, Jaquenetta; Nick Papamihalakis, Armado; Michael Pauley, Costard; Emily Phillips, Dull; Courtney Salvage, Holofernes; Vincent Wagner, King Ferdinand; Jenny Ward, Katherine.
Production Staff: Ed Stern, Director; Elizabeth Bettendorf Bowman, Assistant Director; Matt Mott, Scenic Designer; Kate Mott, Costume Designer; Kyle Coyer, Lighting Designer; Alex Glamyan, Sound Designer/Composer; Patti Goebel, Technical Director; Stephanie Demaree, Dramaturg; Erika Bailey, Vocal Coach; Trevor Fredrickson, Properties Master; Lauren Gaston, Assistant Costume Designer; Kris Kirkwood, Assistant Lighting Designer; Christopher Stepanek, Assistant Technical Director; Sarah Putts, Sound Engineer; Adam Raine, Master Electrician. Stage Management: Laura Cheyne, Stage Manager; Lacey Willis, Rita Sobbing Matt Henrickson, Blaze Brigman, Frank Lillig, Assistant Stage Managers.
Run Crew: Kelsey Briunetti, Light Board; Sean Bailey, Sound Board; Frank Lillig, Crew; Marianne McKenzie, Crew; Chelsea Leaver, Jamie Leonard, Caiti Rowland, Aaron Mitchell, Wardrobe.
Do not miss this production. This will show many that William Shakespeare had the capacity to write broad comedy as well as the histories and tragedies associated with him. “Love’s Labour’s Lost” rings true. UMKC students performed a most delightful production filled with laughter throughout. This show stands out above others. Buy tickets and see for yourself.
For tickets: Central Ticket Office (816) 235-6222 or online at: tickets.cto.umkc.edu/public. Information Single ticket price* for UMKC campus shows are: Adult: $15 each; Senior/Metro Student: $10; Groups of 10+: $8; Industry Night (Mondays only): $10; UMKC ticket prices (one ticket with valid ID) UMKC Faculty and Staff: $10; UMKC Student: $6; and * $4 per order service fees apply.