Wit Makes a Hit!
‘Shakespeare’ enjoys entertaining script, solid acting
By GEORGE MORRIS
Advocate staff writer
Published: May 9, 2007
Legendary movie mogul Jack Warner knew that films about Shakespeare were box office bombs. But a play about a movie about Shakespeare? That’s another story.
“Shakespeare in Hollywood,” which opened last weekend at Baton Rouge Little Theater, is a lot of fun: a clever, often hilarious script and plenty of strong acting performances. Although Ken Ludwig’s story is based on 1930s movie history and the bard’s works, it requires no great knowledge of either for the audience to thoroughly enjoy. Neena Kelfstrom directs.
Robby Wilson plays Warner, who is asked by director Max Reinhardt (Johnny Worsham) to produce Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Warner balks until Lydia Lansing (Brittany Kriger), his fictional girlfriend and minimally talented actress, demands he do it so she can add a classy role to her screen credits.
And, as far as we know, neither Oberon — the King of the Fairies in Shakespeare’s play — nor his sidekick, Puck, showed up for the filming. But they do in “Shakespeare in Hollywood,” which causes the play to take some interesting and enjoyable turns.
The arrival of Oberon (Preston Lorio) and Puck (Lindi Rubin) is fortuitous, as they are hired to play their own parts in the film when other actors become unavailable. The idea of becoming movie stars appeals to them, and auditioning actress Olivia Darnell (Jessica Wilson) appeals to Oberon even more. He enlists Puck to work some fairy magic to speed the relationship along, but that plan goes awry in increasingly uproarious ways.
Rubin is marvelous, never losing the impish sparkle and swagger that make Puck such an engaging character. This is Rubin’s first time on the BRLT stage. One hopes it’s not the last.
Rubin isn’t the only shining comedic star. Kriger is good as the stereotypically air-headed actress. So, too, are Ronald Coats as Will Hayes, the officious keeper of the Hollywood Production Code; Brocato as the perpetually perplexed Brown; Drew Cothern as Warner’s assistant, Daryl; Robby Wilson and Worsham. Lorio and Jessica Wilson carry most of the plot, and do it well.
Also performing are Kathy Wilson as gossip columnist Louella Parsons and ensemble cast members Gabriel Franks, Kyle Richard and Taylor Rhinehart.