As a former theatre student there are certain things that I always look for in a play and/or musical. I look for moments during the show that the cast might be improving. I look for any mistakes that might happen to see how the actors on stage respond. I look, especially, for how the actors acknowledge the unseen people in the production, mainly the musicians and/or the stage managers. It is rare that you find a show that throws a nod to the musicians by having them in the curtain call, because they’ve been in the show all along.
Wednesday night, my Performing Arts in London class had the opportunity to attend Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre. This show is the only I’ve ever seen, and possibly the only I’ve ever heard of that was a film before it hit the stage. Never having seen the film, I only knew that the play followed the story of young Will Shakespeare as he wrote Romeo and Juliet.
I’ve always been a fan of the theatre, but typically musicals peak my interest. I did not know what to expect from this show, but sometimes that is the best mindset to have. I walked away from this show completely satisfied. The set was minimal, but the way that it moved on a slip-stage forward and backward to represent different locations without the necessity of many set props was noticeable. The actors did not need an extravagant set in order to set the scene, the way they used the space and moved around stage explained all that a set could have.
Instead of having an orchestra, the musicians and choir, who were the same, played in the cast as members of Shakespeare’s acting company. It took me the longest time to figure out where the angelic voice was coming from as a soundtrack to the show. I believed that it was a recording until I noticed a man singing. The same goes for the playing of the instruments, I thought the men on stage were only pretending to play the instrument until I realized there was no musician pit.
The storyline of the show kept the audience engaged the entire time, and even though the ending might be considered unconventional in terms of a romantic comedy, it still left the audience with a sense of hope. I don’t want to spoil the ending for those of you that haven’t seen it, but between the creative use of actors and musicians on stage and the entertaining storyline, this play is a must-see (Plus you see Will Shakespeare’s butt and he’s a total hunk).