Thursday, August 15, 2013

Quick Hit Off Broadway Theater Review: Shakespeare in the Park's Love's Labour's Lost

Maria Thayer, Patti Murin, Audrey Lynn Weston, Daniel Breaker, and Kimiko Glenn. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Love's Labour's Lost
A New Musical Based on the Play by William Shakespeare
Songs by Michael Friedman
Book Adapted and Directed by Alex Timbers
Shakespeare in the Park
Presented by the Public Theater

What's It All About?
It's Alex Timbers' vision for the bard's story turned on its ear and infused with a 21-number, catchy pop score by Michael Friedman, the composer who gave us Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson (also written and directed by Timbers). Shakespeare has never been so delightful, or appealing to a younger generation. It's a lighthearted tale of the King of Navarre (Daniel Breaker) and his college buddies (Bryce Pinkham as Longaville, Colin Donnell as Berowne and Lucas Near-Verbrugghe as Dumaine) who meet at their reunion and decide to swear off women and other distractions to nurture their minds instead.

Those plans run into a glitch, however, when some old flames arrive on the scene in the form of a Princess (a terrifically funny and engaging Patti Murin) and her court: Rosaline (Maria Thayer), Maria (Kimiko Glenn) and Katherine (Audrey Lynn Weston). The gist of the Shakespeare's 16th-century comedy is there, made entertaining for a 21st century audience.

What are the Highlights?
The music is entertaining. The set (by Designer John Lee Beatty), designed to look like a resort with a courtyard anchoring a Stratford-looking lodge and a bar which houses the band, is to die for. Giving guffaw-inducing performances are Caesar Samayoa as full-of-himself Don Armado, in love with country wench Jacuenetta (Rebecca Naomi Jones), and "Saturday Night Live" cast member Rachel Dratch and Jeff Hiller as stuffy scholars. Costume Designer Jennifer Moeller also gets kudos for a variety of costumes that look period and modern at the same time (and for a pair of pajamas that are a riot). Choreographer Danny Mefford adds to the zany romp with dance steps that include tap dancing in sneakers and a kick line (again, this isn't your grandmother's Shakespeare....)

What are the Lowlights?
It runs a little long -- about one hour and 40 minutes --and should end with a joyful song that celebrates youth -- about 10 minutes before the dragged out finish.

The only other complaint -- this show, which officially opened Aug. 12 (after previews) only runs through this Sunday, Aug. 18. Let's hope for a transfer to a Broadway stage.

More Information:
Tickets are free. You can stand in line at the park for distribution beginning at noon or enter an online lottery. Visit Performances begin at 8:30 and have no intermission.

Christians might like to know:
--God's name taken in vain

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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