South Coast Repertory is one of 15 theaters around the United States staging productions of Shakespeare in Love this season, according to an American Theatre Magazine survey. SCR’s is likely to be one of the best. 

The play is an adaptation of the 1998 movie, first staged in London in 2014. Not familiar with the movie? Here’s the gist: The story centers on young Will Shakespeare’s formative years, as the aspiring playwright has writer’s block and owes two demanding producers a new comedy—a half-baked mess titled “Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter”. Enter his inspiration: the cross-dressing heroine Viola de Lesseps. Smart, beautiful and Will’s greatest admirer, she will stop at nothing—including breaking the law—to be in his play. As their love blossoms, so does his greatest masterpiece in this tale of mistaken identities, ruthless scheming and backstage theatrics.

shakespeare in love south coast rep

Director Marc Masterson, SCR’s Artistic Director, talked about the play and this production on SCR’s podcast, which you can listen to here

shakespeare in love movie posterIf you are a fan of the movie, here are some fun facts SCR provided about it:

  • The original idea for the film came to screenwriter Marc Norman in the late 1980s after his son Zachary called him from Boston University and suggested doing something on William Shakespeare as a young man in the Elizabethan theatre.
  • Julia Roberts originally agreed to play the role of Viola and she insisted that only Daniel Day-Lewis could play the role of Will Shakespeare. When Day-Lewis passed on the project, Roberts withdrew from the film.
  • In one of the opening scenes, William Shakespeare has a cup on his desk which reads, “Stratford Upon Avon,” Shakespeare’s birthplace.
  • In 2005, the Writers Guild of America ranked its script the 28th greatest ever written.
  • The film was parodied, along with Star Wars, in the 1999 short film George Lucas in Love.
  • Filming locations used in the production include Hatfield House, Hertfordshire (for the fireworks scene), Broughton Castle, Oxfordshire (which played the role of the de Lesseps home), the beach at Holkham in Norfolk, the chapel at Eton College, Berkshire, and the Great Hall of Middle Temple, London.

shakespeare in love south coast repertorySouth Coast Repertory’s production opens this weekend and runs through February 10. The cast includes Paul David Story, Carmela Corbett, Ricky Abilez, Corey Brill, Bill Brochtrup, Stephen Caffrey, Alicia Erlinger, Bo Foxworth, Nick Gabriel, Matthew Henerson, Louis Lotorto, James MacEwan, Aaron McGee, William Francis McGuire, Elyse Mirto, Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper, David Nevell, Bing Putney, Adam Silver, Amelia White and Fleur Zanna, with musicians Alexander “Lex” Leigh and Scott Waara.

Special events during the run include:

  • Post-Show Discussions: Wednesday, Jan. 24, and Tuesday, Jan. 30. Discuss the play with cast members of Shakespeare in Love during free post-show discussions led by South Coast Repertory’s literary team. Segerstrom Stage.
  • Inside the Season: Saturday, Jan. 27, from, 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Led by members of SCR’s literary staff, this lively two-hour session includes in-depth interviews with cast members and artists from the production staff, revealing secrets and offering insights into SCR’s production of Shakespeare in Love.  Segerstrom Stage. Tickets are $12 and may be purchased in advance or at the door.
  • American Sign Language-interpreted: Saturday, Feb. 3, at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are available now at

RELATED: World Premiere at South Coast Rep: Rachel Bonds’ CURVE OF DEPARTURE



Leona Laurie