Skyline Theatre presents “Shakespeare in Love” this weekend (Nov. 15-17)

Before he was known the world over as the greatest playwright in the English Language, William Shakespeare was a young writer struggling to get his works seen and looking for inspiration. That’s the character we meet in “Shakespeare in Love” the play based on the 1998 best picture Oscar winning movie, and coming to the Skyline Auditorium stage on Nov. 15, 16, and 17.

Will (played by Skyline senior Jalen Steudle) finds that inspiration in the lead actor for his unfinished new play, “Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter.” Will discovers that the actor playing Romeo is really a woman named Viola de Lesseps (Skyline senior Laila Krugman). Viola has an intense passion for the stage, but lives in a time when women are forbidden from acting, and so has chosen the dangerous ruse of disguising herself as a man to bring Shakespeare’s words to life.

“Viola isn’t like most damsels in distress,” said Krugman. “She is willing to risk her reputation and perfect life in order to do what she loves: theatre; no matter what it may take. While she falls in love, she doesn’t let that get in the way of her dreams. She is independent, brave, and driven, and she takes control of her own life.”

Will and Viola’s struggles in love and art lead him to revise the play into a masterpiece more familiar to modern audiences.

“People should see the show because it’s just really fun. It’s full of references to other Shakespeare shows, sword fights, and some of the greatest writing of all time,” Steudle said. “It has everything that makes Shakespeare great, but comes in a little bit less intimidating of a package.”

“Shakespeare in Love” also features Andre Jenkins as Shakespeare’s friend and rival Christopher Marlowe, Savanna Cowley as knavish theatre owner Phillip Henslowe, Claire de Vries as producer Hugh Fennyman, Ben Bower as Will’s romantic rival Lord Wessex, Matt Rupp and Noah Spranger as Elizabethen era stars Richard Burbage and Ned Alleyn, and Maggie Lareau as Queen Elizabeth herself.  The cast also includes Sophie Reznick, Anshi Pacha, Evie Glaves, Lily Nordenbrock, Lucy Scherz, Ronan Gilmore, Isabeli Buendia, Lexi Meyers, Julia Toth, Ella Meyers, Natalie Keating, and Matt McMorrough.

Skyline Theatre presents “Shakespeare in Love,” directed by Anne Marie Roberts, on Nov. 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. in the Skyline Auditorium, 2552 N. Maple Rd, Ann Arbor. Tickets are available now at

Main Photo: Photo caption: Laila Krugman as Viola de Lesseps and Jalen Steudle as young Will Shakespeare in “Shakespeare in Love.” (photo by Lisa Gavan)