Last weekend, The College Player’s presented “Love’s Labour’s Lost.” Founded in 1863, The College Players is oldest student-run theater company this side of the mississippi celebrating their 152nd season this year.
Their annual Spring musical, based on William Shakespeare’s comedy of the same name, follows King Ferdinand (Jonathan Tierny) and his three noble companions Berowne (RJ Rajarillo), Dumaine (Peter Gernon), and Longaville (Evan Boukidis) as they attempt to take an oath of celibacy in order to expand their mental prowess. However, their intentions are challenged when a princess of a nearby kingdom (Alison Collins) and her friends Rosaline (Shannon Lehr), Maria (Ambrosia Lobo), and Katherine (Colette Sobczak) stay with King Ferdinand while the princess’ father is sick.
True to Shakespearean theatre, the actors utilized old english for the majority of the play, only using modern english in song. According to director Haley Heideman, who made her directorial debut with the Players’ fall production of Dear Harvey, the musical of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” amplifies the Shakespearean prose we’re typically used to. “I’m really proud of how the actors made the language their own and made the Shakespeare language funny. And relevant. There are so many funny lines that could go unseen if the actors did not really know what they were saying.”
Once adapted as a not-very-successful film in 2000, the musical later reached greater notoriety when it premiered as an off-Broadway musical in 2013. The College Player’s did a great job at taking that successful medium and re-targeting it to a college audience. It tackles the issues of modern romances, particularly those of the co-ed variety. It was hilarious yet thought provoking. And ultimately it was raunchy, it was profane, and it did a heck of a job at making the audience laugh (not to mention it appealed to our not-so guilty pleasure of 80’s dance music with Nena’s “99 Luftballons” blasting during one of their dance numbers). Junior psychology and PASJ theatre major Matthew Morishige was especially entertaining as Don Armado, the lust filled don who can’t contain himself around the modest Jaquanetta, played by freshman Isa Williams. Despite her eccentric counterpart, Williams captured the audience with her outstanding singing voice during her solo in “Love’s A Gun.”
Aside from the crudeness, “Love’s Labour’s Lost” features some pretty catchy tunes reminiscent of 60’s pop. Collins, Lehr, Lobo, and Sobczak harmonized beautifully through their upbeat and empowering group song “Hey Boys,” while Tierny, Rajarillo, Gernon, and Boukidis did a throwback to familiar boy band melodies with “Labour Of Love.” Also noteworthy, Gernon, who starred as Mark Cohen in last year’s production of Rent, hit some impressive high notes during his performance of “Dumaine’s Poem.”
Overall, the College Player’s presented a refreshing twist on a Shakespeare classic. Only having four weeks to assemble the production before its premiere last weekend, the performers and crew did an impressive job at producing an entertaining musical where everyone worked like a well-oiled machine. I anticipate their next Spring musical production in the hopes that they’ll put on a musical as unique as “Love’s Labour’s Lost.”
Photo courtesy of Nichole Rosanova/Foghorn