A ‘Labour’ of love

Baylor's Theater Department is hard at work getting ready for their production of "Love's Labour's Lost," which premieres tomorrow. Flower Mound junior Chris Hergert welds on a iron door for the set. Photo credit: Trey Honeycutt

By Lauren Friederman, Reporter

“Love’s Labour’s Lost” is different from the traditional musical, combining Shakespearean language with modern music.

Tomorrow, the Baylor theater department will debut an adapted version of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” directed by Lisa Denman, the undergraduate program director. The musical will begin at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow through Oct.3 and at 2 p.m. on Oct. 4 and 11 in Jones Theater.

“I’ve done a lot of musicals,” Denman said. “But this one is a little different because it has more of a pop rock kind of sound.”

The musical features onstage musicians and the stage is set up with various microphones that actors utilize throughout the show, Denman said. People coming to see the musical can expect to have a fun and interactive experience, she said.

“It’s very light,” Denman said. “It’s very upbeat. Obviously the music is fun and it’s fast. It’s pop. They address a lot of things to the audience.”

Denman said one of her favorite parts of directing is developing a vision. Part of that for “Love’s Labour’s Lost” is creating a division on stage between youth and adulthood.

“We decided that what we wanted to happen onstage would be that we would have this area over here which would represent being a grownup, very stable and traditional,” Denman said. “This side of the stage, which this is a bar, would represent youth.”

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Denman said the Shakespearean aspect of the musical has presented some unique challenges.

“Whenever you’re dealing with Shakespearean language that’s a challenge,” Denman said.

In order to make the play’s meaning more clear, Denman said she and the actors turned to Internet sources. Denman worked with the actors on the delivery of specific lines to ensure the meaning of each could be understood.

“There are lots of times where I was like: ‘Do you understand what that is, what you just said?’” Denman said. The rock-pop aspect of the musical presents a challenge. Instead of traditional pit orchestra accompaniment, the directors have added an onstage band.

Ryan Joyner, an assistant professor for theatre arts and the sound designer for the musical, said he has spent most of his time finding a good balance between the vocalists and the band.

“Usually we have an orchestra that is located in the orchestra pit, which is lowered below the stage level, and that helps control the orchestra volume,” Joyner said. “The band being onstage this time has made it a challenge to try to control their volume and balance it against the vocalists.”

The youthful quality of the actors and the academic setting make Baylor’s production of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” unique compared to the original performance at “Shakespeare in the Park” in Central Park, Denman said.

In the original production of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” performed in Central Park, there were a lot of inside theater jokes that non-theater people wouldn’t necessarily get, Denman said. She has worked to make Baylor’s production of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” understandable for a Baylor audience.

“With most shows you’re going to tweak them a little bit to make them work,” Denman said. “Not to the point of changing what the playwright is trying to say, but just to make them work with your audience.”

Just because “Love’s Labour’s Lost” is based on Shakespeare doesn’t mean the audience won’t understand and enjoy it, Denman said. The Shakespearean passages between songs are short, and the pop songs often explain what is going on.

“Hopefully the attendees will feel like they got a little bit of culture with Shakespeare,” Denman said. “But in a very easy way because of the music.”

Tickets are $20 and they are available for purchase on the Baylor theatre department website.