Join These "Shakespeare in Love" Performers

No matter what walk of life one is from, it could be beneficial to have a muse to inspire day-to-day life. William Shakespeare, a revered English poet, playwright and actor, knew this all too well. But what happens when one has no muse? Find out for yourself by joining the cast and crew of Nashville Repertory Theatre for their customized version of Shakespeare in Love, hosted at the Johnson Theater, TPAC, 505 Deaderick St.

The production runs March 23 through April 13, however, tickets go on sale Feb. 1, making this a thoughtful, creative and thematic Valentine’s Day gift. Preview shows will be held March 21-22. Tickets start at $25.

The Production’s Synopsis:

Penniless and indebted to two demanding producers, struggling young playwright William Shakespeare is tormented by writer’s block until he meets the beautiful Viola de Lesseps, daughter of a wealthy merchant, whose fiery passion for poetry and drama leaves her secretly longing to be an actor. Both are despondent when they learn that Viola’s father has promised her to the stuffy Lord Wessex to gain a title for their family. Under the veil of secrecy, Will and Viola’s passionate love affair becomes the basis of the very play he is writing: Romeo and Juliet. With opening night—and the wedding day—fast approaching, the plots race toward a parallel conclusion. Will it all work out in the end, or are the two star-crossed lovers destined for tragedy?

Shakespeare in Love is based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard. It was adapted for the stage by Lee Hall. Its music was arranged by Paddy Cunneen. 

Lifestyle went behind the scenes with the Repertory’s staff to see how the production was being built from the ground up. We specifically learned about the actual production of the show from set designer Gary C. Hoff. 

Gary says he drew inspiration from the architecture of the Elizabethan Period, and specifically architecture from theaters of 1595.

“I needed to create a space that could change from location to location without a lot of moving scenery. With just a few pieces and lighting, we change where the action is taking place.”

The tone and colors of the set are very earthly and textural, Gary explains. He says there will be many heavy beams, inlaid brick and large shutters, all done in a rustic manner.

“The set is very much William Shakespeare’s life in the rough-and-tumble world of Elizabethan theater,” he adds.

One fun twist throughout the design’s set was the use of the Tudor Rose, the symbol of the Tudor reign.

“Because our theater is quite small, the bed for Viola’s bedroom needed to be made in two pieces. The bed will be attached together and then brought on stage. It will need to be disassembled after it’s done to fit into storage backstage. The top canopy of the bed is also removable so it can be used as Juilet’s funeral bier. We try to make pieces a multi-functional as possible,” he says.

Materials used for the set included:  

  • The set’s skeleton is made primarily of steel. 
  • The set uses a lot of medium-density fiberboard covered in roof patch to create timbers.
  • The brick sections are carved out of 1/2-inch foam and painted to look like brick.
  • The railings are cut out of 1/2-inch medium-density fiberboard with a textured treatment.
  • The floor is painted wood grain on 1/4-inch Masonite.

The mission of this professional troupe is to be a flagship theater serving as a prime resource for cultural, educational, economic and general welfare of Nashville, Middle Tennessee region and the entire state of Tennessee. Founded in 1985, they continue to build on three decades of creativity.

To buy tickets for Shakespeare in Love, visit or call 615.782.4040.