Players Theatre does The Bard with a twist

Love’s Labours Lost

Who: Mid-Ohio Valley Players

Where: Mid-Ohio Valley Players Theatre, 229 Putnam St, Marietta 45750

By William Shakespeare

Music Composed by Todd Burge

Lyrics and Adapted Script by Geoff Coward

Synopsis: Strict vows are taken among the men of Navarre, led by their king: no women, restricted diet, restricted sleep. Alas, this is not so easily done by all, there is an arrest of a breaker of the vows, a crush on a girl, and then the arrival of the Princess from France and her court of lovely women. Despite their vows, the men fall in love with the women, there are mixed up letters delivered to the wrong ladies, exposing the easy breaking of these vows. The ladies decide to have a little fun with this. The pompous schoolmistress and self-righteous reverend conspire with others to present a play within this play, but they are not received as they believed they would be. More chaos and comedy ensue.

Today, Shakespeare is not necessarily performed in “doublet and hose” and MOVP’s Navarre is set in a rural county in Appalachia, closer, in time, to the present day. As the play is very lyrical, Director Geoff Coward decided to set some of the text to song and local musician Todd Burge has composed some “blue-grass” music to accompany it. The text has also been carefully adapted by Coward for accessibility and for a shorter running time. This play is an excellent introduction to Shakespeare for those intimidated by the wordiness and sometimes difficult-to-interpret texts. The songs are beautiful and fun.

“Love Labours Lost is one of Shakespeare’s early written comedies and contains elements and themes echoed in his later, more sophisticated plays,” Coward said. “Also, perhaps one of Shakespeare’s most feminist of plays; the fours ladies continually getting the better of the four men; Berowne may be the wittiest character in the play, but the Princess is the wisest.”

Harrison Construction donated the labor and materials for the main set piece, the “castle” of the county.

Jessica Gundlack, who plays Lady Katherine, thinks this is a great show.

“It’s exciting to do and hilarious to watch,” she said. “Although not entirely the way I had imagined Shakespeare, I consider it a modern twist on an old classic.

“Geoff Coward is my favorite director to work with; otherwise I wouldn’t be driving 185 miles round-trip almost every evening to do this show, ” said Gary Brown, playing Armado. “Beginning in 1986, this is my 13th show with Geoff directing. This is also the 16th production of 14 different Shakespeare plays that I have acted in, four of which have been with Geoff.”

Kevin Paskawych, our King Ferdinand, says, “This show has been one of the most interesting productions I have worked, and it is certainly unique.”

“Great sets require great effort,” said Debbie Lawson, playing Reverend Nate. She has also been coordinating efforts to complete artwork and the elaborate set. “I acquired real old split rail fencing from my mother’s house, some pieces from Found Antiques, and have had all sorts of assistance from friends, cast members and various others.”

She chose to play Sir Nathanial as a man because she thought it would be a lot more fun.

Already under way, the show continues Saturday, and also May 10 & 11th at 8 p.m. with a matinee on Sunday May 5 beginning at 3 p.m.

The Cast: Berowne: George Litman, Lady Rosaline: Karen Pratt, King Ferdinand: Kevin Paskawych, Princess: Robin Kelby, Longaville: Ray Ryan, Maria: Madeline Young, Dumaine: Brian Palmer, Katherine: Jessica Gundlack, Boyet: Richard Bellerman, Armado: Gary Brown, Moth: Brandon Humphrey, Morel Gustavo, Professor Holfernes: Susan Kelby, Reverend Nate: Debbie Lawson, Costard: Mark Abicht, Dull: Kermit Polan: Jaquenetta: Rachael Freeman

The play is directed by Geoff Coward, Assistant Director is Anita Newhart. Music performed by John Saunders, Mark Doebrich & Michael Bigger.

Ticket prices: Adult: $11, Seniors & Students: $9, Youth (to 16): $6. Tickets available at, or Marty’s Print Shop on 3rd Street.

Receive a 15 percent discount on entrees at participating restaurants on day of show ticket. See our website,, for more details. Box office opens at 5p.m.

Sponsored by: Dr. Zane Lazer, Ohio Valley Eye Physicians. Funded in part by a grant from Artsbridge, and with special cooperation with the Colony Theater.