The Bard Meets Bluegrass: Mid-Ohio Valley Players Present “Love’s Labour’s Lost”

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Wiiliam Shakespeare's works have been altered and adapted countless times over the centuries, and the Mid-Ohio Valley Players are determined to put their own stamp on one of the Bard's most famous plays.

The Marietta theater troupe is presenting Love's Labour's Lost April 26-May 11 at the Mid-Ohio Valley Players Theatre, located at 229 Putnam Street.

These days, Shakespeare is not necessarily performed in "doublet and hose." Indeed, this production is set in a rural county in Appalachia, closer in time to the present day.

As the play is very lyrical, Director Geoff Coward decided to set some of the text to song, recruiting Parkersburg musician Todd Burge to compose some bluegrass music accompaniment.

The text has also been carefully adapted by Coward for accessibility and for a shorter running time. Coward feels this production is an excellent introduction to Shakespeare for those intimidated by the wordiness and sometimes difficult-to-interpret texts.

"Love's Labour's Lost is one of Shakespeare’s early comedies and contains elements and themes echoed in his later, more sophisticated plays," he said. "Also, perhaps one of Shakespeare’s most feminist of plays, with the ladies continually getting the better of the four men. Berowne may be the wittiest character in the play, but the Princess is the wisest."

Jessica Gundlack, who plays Lady Katherine, thinks the audience is in for a great show. 

"It’s exciting to do and hilarious to watch. Although not entirely the way I had imagined Shakespeare, I consider it a modern twist on an old classic," she said.

Gary Brown, who portrays Armando, shares Gundlack's enthusiasm.

"Geoff Coward is my favorite director to work with; otherwise I wouldn't be driving 185 miles round-trip almost every evening to do this show," he said. "This is my thirteenth show with Geoff directing. This is also the sixteenth production of 14 different Shakespeare plays that I have acted in, four of which have been with Geoff."

Debbie Lawson, who is playing Reverend Nate, has also been coordinating efforts to complete artwork and the elaborate set. 

"I acquired old split rail fencing from my mother’s house, some pieces from Found Antiques, and have had all sorts of assistance from friends, cast members and various others," she said.

In fact, the production is the result of community effort, from the actors, artists, set builders, costumers and ushers to members and sponsors. Those who would like to get involved in upcoming shows are enouraged to contact the Mid-Ohio Valley Players.

Tickets for Love's Labour's Lost are available at or at Marty's Print Shop on 3rd Street.