Shakespeare, Tom Stoppard and Disney seems like an unlikely combination of creative forces, but they come together in the upcoming show from Sarasota’s Asolo Repertory Theatre.
The play is “Shakespeare in Love,” and it began life as a 1998 film co-written by the great playwright Stoppard. (It won a bunch of Oscars, including Best Picture). The stage version, adapted by Lee Hall (otherwise best known for the “Billy Elliot” film), was originally produced in England, where it was a huge hit.
The plot of the play (and the film) has to do with Shakespeare as he’s in the midst of writing a comedy titled “Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter.” When he falls in love, he’s inspired to transform his comedy into the romantic drama we all know. But along the way, there’s a lot of the kind of mistaken-identity (and mistaken-gender) confusion that sparks so many of Shakespeare’s funniest comedies.
It’s directed and choreographed by Chicago-based Rachel Rockwell. In Asolo’s publicity materials, she’s quoted as saying she started out approaching the play as a romantic comedy but came to see it as a statement on the power of art. That’s a very different perspective the film seemed to to take.
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Among the Asolo Rep regulars in the cast are David Breitbarth, Matt DeCaro, Matt McGee and Peggy Roeder.
Details: Jan. 12-March 18 (in repertory), Mertz Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. $14-$98. 941-351-8000, asolorep.org.