News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, July 11, 2019 and Island Ad-Vantages, July 11, 2019 and The Weekly Packet, July 11, 2019
Shakespeare in Love lights up Opera House stage

Opera House Arts celebrates 20 years with its first mainstage production of the season, Shakespeare in Love, a delightful comedy celebrating theater-making and the freedom found in love—love of craft, love of another, and love of community.

Shakespeare in Love, playing July 18-28 at the Stonington Opera House, is the stage adaptation by Lee Hall of the Academy Award-winning screenplay written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard. Julia Sears, returning after serving as associate director on OHA’s production of The Tempest at Ames Farm last summer, directs.

“The story we’re telling is one in which love frees the characters from the restrictions placed upon them by society. This is a play full of joy, raunch, language and love,” said Sears in a news release from OHA.

After OHA’S 19 “Shakespeare in Stonington” productions, all traditionally penned by the Bard, Shakespeare in Love marks their first departure from his canon, but holds all the drama, poetry, and wit audiences have come to expect. Hall’s adaptation of the film is a tongue-in-cheek celebration of Shakespeare himself, love, and the swashbuckling joy of putting on a play in Elizabethan London.

Young Will Shakespeare has writer’s block: the deadline for his new play is fast approaching but he’s in desperate need of inspiration. That is, until he finds his muse—Viola. This fierce young woman is Will’s greatest admirer and will stop at nothing to appear in his next play. Against a bustling background of mistaken identity, ruthless scheming, and backstage theatrics, Will’s love for Viola quickly blossoms and inspires him to write his greatest masterpiece.

Sears is a director, writer, and fight choreographer based in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her work is a mix of heightened language and movement elevating the stories of women across America. She has worked with various artistic and social justice organizations over the past 15 years. In 2006 Sears co-founded the Empty Chair Theatre Company, an educational forum for young theater artists in the Washington, D.C. area to study and perform Shakespeare’s works.

Hall was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1966 and studied English Literature at Cambridge University. He has worked as a writer in theatre, TV, radio and film. He has been writer-in-residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company and Live Theatre, Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Tickets can be purchased online, at the Opera House box office, or by phone at 367-2788. Shows do sell out and advance tickets are recommended. Visit for a full schedule and to purchase tickets. The July 18 performance is a Pay-What-You-Wish preview. All students, K-12, from Hancock County and surrounding islands can attend any OHA live performance for free.

This Shakespeare in Stonington production is generously underwritten by Judy and Ray McCaskey and an anonymous donor.