A summer of love lost by Shakespeare, found by Jane Austen

June 18, 2017

Bloomington, Ind – The Indiana University Department of Theatre, Drama, & Contemporary Dance will continue its 2017 Summer Theatre season with two plays in repertory, Love’s Labour’s Lost by William Shakespeare and Persuasion adapted for the stage from Jane Austen’s novel by Jennifer LeBlanc, running between July 7 – 23. Since the plays are in repertory, the same cast will perform both shows with the shows on alternating days.

Both works are lesser-known pieces that nonetheless showcase the singular voices of their authors. In Love’s Labour’s Lost, an early romantic comedy of Shakespeare, the King of Navarre (Jason Craig West) and his three companions swear off romance to better focus on their scholarly endeavors, but their vows are put to the test by a court visit from a beautiful princess (Ashley Dillard) and her entourage of three (conveniently) eligible ladies. Delightful wordplay and side-splitting situational comedy define this gem of the Shakespeare canon. Department chair Jonathan Michaelson, who directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the 2016 IU Summer Theatre, will return for Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Jane Austen’s Persuasion, adapted for the stage by California playwright Jennifer Le Blanc, is the classic tale of “the one that got away”. Anne Elliot (Ashley Dillard), a young Englishwoman, is shocked when her former fiancé Captain Wentworth (Grant Goodman) reappears in her life seven years after their engagement is abruptly cancelled. Both resist rekindling their old relationship due to a more complicated and mature outlook on life, competing suitors, and the remnants of their former class differences. The show will be directed by Dale McFadden, head of Acting and Directing at IU, who previously helmed Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice at IU, but is enjoying the creative distinctions of Persuasion, Austen’s final novel. “I think there are more hidden agendas, and more manipulation and intrigue than in the other plays,” says McFadden.

Both Persuasion and Love’s Labour’s Lost share the same fourteen-person cast, including Equity actors Grant Goodman, Jenny McKnight, and IU professor and stage and screen actor Henry Woronicz, as well as both graduate and undergraduate student actors. Jenny McKnight will be joining the IU Theatre Department faculty in the fall as a Visiting Assistant Professor and will be directing the mainstage production of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare come spring.

On the topic of performing the plays in repertory, Love’s Labour’s Lost director Jonathan Michaelsen said, “The thing about the summer that’s different than the academic year for (students) is it’s their job. That makes a huge difference. This is what they do. They don’t have to go to English class. That’s really illuminating for them.” He added, “The intensity of the work, the speed with which we have to go, they can’t dally.”


Join IU Summer Theatre and FARMbloomington Restaurant for a reprise of last year’s sold out “Jane Austen Brunch“, featuring a menu crafted by Chef Daniel Orr on July 8th. The brunch will begin at 11am and feature cuisine inspired by the world of Jane Austen novels, as well as an appearance by IUST and Equity actor Henry Woronicz.

The new Cup & Kettle Tea Company (located on Walnut just north of the Square) will come to the theatre to host a tea tasting, open to the public, between 5:30pm and 7pm on July 12th, prior to that evening’s performance of Persuasion. IU Faculty and Staff are encouraged to stop by the theatre after work to try some of the best examples of teas of the world courtesy of owners Jessica Messmer & Kayla Maldonado.

On July 15th, Topo’s 403 will offer the “Kings & Queens Dinner”, a Love’s Labour’s Lost-themed event where guests will arrive with their companions at 6:30pm for a short reception after which they will bid their love final farewell as they are escorted to separate rooms for dinner! But never fear, they’ll be reunited in the end for desserts on the balcony.

IU Summer Theatre Presents Love’s Labour’s Lost by William Shakespeare
and Persuasion, adapted for the stage from Jane Austen’s novel by Jennifer LeBlanc

Love’s Labour’s Lost
July 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 19 & 21 at 7:30 pm, and July 16 & 22 at 2:00 pm
July 8, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, & 22 at 7:30 pm, and July 9, 15 &  23 at 2:00 pm

WHERE: Wells-Metz Theatre, Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave.

TICKETS: Regular admission is $20 for adults, $10 for students. 812.855.1103 or theatre.indiana.edu.

For more information and interview requests, please email Amy Osajima at aosajima@indiana.edu.