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Virtuoso Shines in “Shakespeare in Love”

By Staff | Dec 18, 2019

The principal cast members of Virtuoso's "Shakespeare in Love" from left are: Breanna Gardner as Kit Marlowe, Avery Jessell as Queen Elizabeth I, Catalin Torok as Nurse, Laura Ulrich as Viola De Lesseps/Thomas Kent, Dylan Ring as Will Shakespeare, and Bradyn Foresman as Lord Wessex. While these students may have had the lead roles, after the show they were very quick to give credit to the entire cast and crew for working together to make the show a success.

Virtuoso gave two enchanting performances of “Shakespeare in Love” on Dec. 4 and 5. They embraced the challenging material and delivered a delightful show that included forbidden love, romantic rivalries, financial hardships, Elizabethan law and politics, sword fighting, and stage combat and they achieved all of these feats while maintaining British accents. The show also featured a large number of “pants roles” a theatrical term for women portraying men.

The show follows a young William Shakespeare who is trying to overcome writer’s block to complete an overdue play, as well as the wealthy noblewoman Viola De Lesseps who dreams of acting. However, women are forbidden by law to perform on stage. She ends up becoming Shakespeare’s muse to write Romeo and Juliet and the two begin a forbidden relationship. Shakespeare is married and Viola is being forced into an arranged marriage with Lord Wessexa cruel and volatile nobleman who is far more interested in Viola’s dowry than her.

Senior Dylan Ring artfully portrayed William Shakespeare through a tumultuous series of ups and downs. From comedic hijinks to heartbreaking tragedy, the play gave Ring a chance to show his truly impressive dramatic range.

He said, “So many different people have different ways that you can think about Shakespeare and portray him, there’s so many different variations of him . . . this show was super hard because you had to find the perfect balance to portray him as somebody who is finding his muse.” He added, “I’m so proud of my cast, they did such an amazing job. I couldn’t be more proud of a group of people and I hope that I did Will Shakespeare justice.”

Laura Ulrich had the highly complex role of Viola De Lesseps who at times posed as a man named Thomas Kent to pursue a career in acting which resulted in Kent getting cast as Romeo. She was essentially playing three characters at once in certain scenes, and she also portrayed De Lesseps as Juliet. She seamlessly glided through the enormous challenge to give a glowing performance. She said, “Learning the lines from Romeo and Juliet was definitely the hardest part . . . I loved it so much. This being my senior show I’m so glad we got to do this together and with this amazing cast. I can’t thank them enough and my directors as well.”

Another challenge for many female members of the cast was to believably portray men. Senior Breanna Gardner who portrayed Kit Marlowe said, “It was a completely different set up having to learn the history behind where the setting is, but also playing a man, so the stance, the beard, how to fix your hair, and how you walk and stand and how to talk is the main thing.”

The show featured sword fights and physical combat. Sophomore Bradyn Foresman gave a stunning performance as Lord Wessex, a cruel character who was often quick to let his raging temper drive him to violence. Lord Wessex had more combat scenes than any other performer. Foresman revealed after the show that two professional coaches came in to teach the students how to stage fight. One taught sword fighting, and the other taught hand-to-hand combat.

Co-directors Carina McNear and Jessica Carpenter said, “We feel as if we always say we are proud beyond words . . . but we always are. These kids continue to work to their fullest potential and push themselves and each other to be great for themselves and their audiences. It is an honor and privilege to work with them every day.”

Cast Members: Will Shakespeare Dylan Ring; Viola De Lesseps/Thomas Kent Laura Ulrich; Kit Marlowe Breanna Gardner; Lord Wessex Bradyn Foresman; Henslow Carson Bloom; Hugh Fennyman Jaelyn Woods; Richard Burbage Jewels Tawney; Ned Alleyn Addi Heasley; Queen Elizabeth I Avery Jessell; Nurse Catalin Torok; Tilney McKenzie Heasley; Sir Robert De Lesseps Wyatt Stugart; Sam Nathan Yeagle; John Webster Gavin Rine; Ralph Colton Hessler; Nol/Catling Aden Keister; Peter Kimmie Pickering; Wabash Shane Peck; Adam Samantha Guyer; Robin Sloan Wooten; Frees/Dog Handler Julia Stetts; Lambert Ava Peluso; Molly Natalie St. James; Mistress Quickly/Kate Emily Wolfgang; Barman/Abraham Peyton Nash; Boatman Madeline Bender; Valentine Kailyn Woltz; Proteus Garret Rine; Music Director Emily Wolfgang; Guards/Burbage’s Heavies Aden Keister and Colton Hessler; Singers Gavin Rine, Madeline Bender, and Natalie St. James; Swordsman Hayden Ross, Gabe McNear, and Brady Rupert.

Crew: Co-Directors Mrs. Carina McNear and Mrs. Jessica Carpenter; Set Designer and Sound Technician Mr. James Carpenter; Assistant Sound Technician Gabe McNear; Lighting Design Iris Keister; Stage Manager Ava Peluso; Costumes Mirabella Fink and Jaelyn Woods; Scene Calls Lauren Magyar; Microphones and Stage Hands Sloan Woods, Kailyn Woltz, and Madeline Bender; Set Work and Stage Hands -Nolan Johnson, Bradyn Foresman, Addi Heasley, Mirabella Fink, Lauren Magyar, Peyton Nash, Brad Foresman, Danielle Boyer, Safia Deem, and McKenzie Heasley.