The People’s Light Production of Shakespeare in Love

Based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard

Adapted for the stage by Lee Hall

Music by Alex Bechtel

Directed by Matt Pfeiffer
February 26 – March 29, 2020

Leonard C. Haas Stage

Originally produced on the West End by Disney Theatrical Productions & Sonia Friedman Productions,

directed by Declan Donnellan, and designed by Nick Ormerod, with music by Paddy Cunneen.


People’s Light presents Shakespeare in Love, a stage adaptation of the 1998 Academy Award-winning film. In 1593 London, Will Shakespeare has writer’s block. Low on funds and out of ideas, the young playwright finds his muse in Viola de Lesseps, a wealthy merchant’s daughter with dreams of the stage. Despite England’s prohibition on female performers, Viola disguises herself as a man and wins the role of “Romeo” in Shakespeare’s upcoming comedy, Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter. As Will discovers that his talented leading man is none other than the captivating aristocrat he admired from afar, the two begin a passionate affair that becomes inspiration for a new love story: Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare in Love runs in the Leonard C. Haas Stage February 26 – March 29. Tickets start at $35, including fees. To purchase, call 610.644.3500 or visit People’s Light is located at 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, PA 19355.

Shakespeare in Love first premiered at the Noël Coward Theatre in London’s West End in July 2014 under the direction of Declan Donnellan, and came to the US in 2017 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Hailed as “warm and witty” (The Guardian), “funny,” “genuinely moving” (Daily Telegraph), and “an absolute joy from beginning to end” (The Daily Express), the play continues to be produced across the country and around the world.

People’s Light Producing Director Zak Berkman is thrilled to bring the Shakespeare-esque romantic comedy to Malvern. “Every year, we hear some audiences say ‘Please, no Shakespeare,’ while others plead for more from The Bard. The great thing about Shakespeare in Love is that everyone – the lovers and the haters – can happily unite behind this celebration of romance, rebellion, and theatre itself.”

“This play is like a valentine to the joy, camaraderie, and utter chaos of bringing a play to life for the very first time,” says Director Matt Pfeiffer, who has spent most of his career delving into the works of William Shakespeare.


“I’ve found great success by infusing any production of Shakespeare with the core theatrical principles of his time. Shakespeare’s company didn’t have designers or directors, they used stock costumes and sets, and had very little rehearsal time. The focus was on the actors and the action,” Pfeiffer explains. “So, when the prospect of directing Shakespeare in Love came about, I was particularly excited to explore the spirit and energy of theatre-making in Shakespeare’s world.”


As The Bard himself says, “If music be the food of love, play on!” Highly sought-after Philadelphia artist Alex Bechtel, who has previously collaborated with People’s Light and Matt Pfeiffer, composes new songs and an original score exclusive to the People’s Light production of Shakespeare in Love.


Jaime Maseda makes his People’s Light debut as William Shakespeare and Taysha Canales (All My Sons, A Single Shard) returns as Viola. Justin Jain (Treasure Island (2007 & 2011), Aladdin, Gossamer) also returns as Wessex. They are joined by People’s Light company members Melanye Finister as Queen Elizabeth I, Mark Lazar as Sir Robert de Lesseps/Boatman, Stephen Novelli as Fennyman, and Mary Elizabeth Scallen as the Nurse. Making their People’s Light debuts are Maboud Ebrahimzadeh as Marlowe, Dan Hodge as Henslowe, Anthony Lawton as Burbage, Pax Ressler as Sam, Bailey Roper as Webster, Jahzeer Terrell as Ned Alleyn, and Rachel Massey and Justin Yoder as Musicians. Returning People’s Light pup Bobby Sheffield (For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday) plays Spot.


Matt Pfeiffer directs in his People’s Light debut. Alex Bechtel (Sleeping BeautyCinderellaArthur and the Tale of the Red Dragon) returns as Music Director, Composer, and Sound Designer. Paige Hathaway and Olivera Gajic make their People’s Light debuts as Set and Costume Designers, respectively. Returning artists include Maria Shaplin (Richard III, I & You) as Lighting Designer, Eli Lynn (Such Things As Vampires) as Fight & Intimacy Choreographer, Melanie Julian (The Children, Project Dawn, Sweat) as Dialect Coach, and Alix Rosenfeld (The Diary of Anne Frank) as Dramaturg. People’s Light General Manager Erin Sheffield serves as Choreographer and resident company member Kate McSorley Fossner stage manages.




Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard Screenwriters
Tom Stoppard is a prolific writer for film, TV, radio, and the stage, with a career spanning almost seven decades. He has been honored with a CBE, received honorary doctorates from Oxford, Cambridge, and Yale, and was knighted in 1997. In the early 1990s, Stoppard co-wrote the screenplay for Shakespeare in Love with screenwriter Marc Norman. The film went on to receive seven Academy Awards, three Golden Globes, and three BAFTAs, and was subsequently adapted for the stage by Lee Hall.

Lee Hall Adaptor
Lee Hall writes adaptations, translations, and original scripts for film and stage. Some of his notable works include Billy Elliot: The Musical, Pride and Prejudice, Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, and most recently, Rocketman.

Matt Pfeiffer Director
People’s Light debut. Theatre Includes: Arden Theatre, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Delaware Theatre Company, InterAct, Walnut Street Theatre, 1812 Productions, Lantern Theater Company, The Gulfshore Playhouse, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, UArts, Villanova University, and 21 seasons with the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. Matt is a Philly born actor and director and twelve-time Barrymore nominee, winning for his direction of The Whale and The Invisible Hand, both with Theatre Exile. He’s also a recipient of the F. Otto Haas Award.

Alex Bechtel Music Director, Composer, & Sound Designer
People’s Light: Musical pantos Sleeping Beauty (Composer/Lyricist), Cinderella (Tomcat), and Arthur and the Tale of the Red Dragon (Sir Kay). Theatre Includes: Arden Theatre, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, 1812 Productions, Lightning Rod Special, Walnut Street Theatre, New Paradise Laboratories, Theatre Horizon, and more. He is the creator/composer of The West, Philadelphia Nocturne, and Cheer Up Dostoevsky, composer of The Light Princess (Barrymore Awards for Original Music & Leading Actor in a Musical), and composer/lyricist/lead writer for Lightning Rod Special’s The Appointment (“Best of 2019” from The New York Times, TimeOut NY, and Vulture). Website:

Taysha Marie Canales Viola
People’s Light: Lydia Lubey in All My Sons, Ensemble in A Single Shard. Theatre Includes: Dance Nation, There, Dionysus Was Such A Nice Man, Romeo and Juliet, Passage, Passing Strange, Blood Wedding, When the Rain Stops Falling, An Octoroon, The Hard Problem (Wilma Theater); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, La Bête, The Jungle Book, Wayside Stories From Wayside School (Arden Theatre); Moon Cave (Azuka Theatre); The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington, Slip/Shot (Flashpoint Theatre). Taysha is the 2018 F. Otto Haas Emerging Philadelphia Theater Artist Recipient. She is a Wilma HotHouse Company Member. Training: BFA in Acting (Arcadia University).

Maboud Ebrahimzadeh Marlowe
People’s Light debut. Theatre Includes: Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night TimeOsloSmall Mouth SoundsThe Book of Will, and Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (Round House Theatre); Murder on the Orient Express (Hartford Stage); Disgraced and Murder on the Orient Express (McCarter Theatre); Disgraced (Milwaukee Rep); The Invisible Hand (Theatre Exile, Barrymore Award for Outstanding Lead Actor); The Price (Arena Stage); Mockingbird (Kennedy Center); Henry IV 1, King JohnTimon of Athens, and Julius Caesar (Folger Theatre); Water by the Spoonful and Edgar & Annabel (Studio Theatre); The Container (Baltimore Center Stage); Tale of the Allergist’s Wife (Theater J); The Liar (Gulfshore Playhouse); Oil and The Invisible Hand (Olney Theatre Center); The PillowmanThe Last Days of Judas IscariotBobrauschenbergamerica, and Scorched (Forum Theatre); Henry VI 1, Henry VI 2, Henry IV 3, Richard III, Love’s Labour’s Lost, and Pericles (Taffety Punk) Film/Television Includes: Jessica JonesImperium, and Sally Pacholok. Website:

Melanye Finister Queen
Company Member since 1991. People’s Light: Our Town, Skeleton Crew (Barrymore Award for Lead Actor), The Diary of Anne Frank, Project Dawn, The Matchmaker, All My Sons, Fences, The Winter’s Tale, Seven Guitars, The Return of Don Quixote, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Something You Did, Fabulation, and The Member of the Wedding. Theatre Includes: Wilma Theater, Arden Theatre, Flashpoint Theatre Company, InterAct, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Venture Theatre, Temple Theaters, and Walnut Street Theatre. Training: BFA, Carnegie Mellon University. Melanye is a 2018 Lunt Fontanne Fellow, an artist and resident company member at People’s Light, a member of Wilma Hothouse, and a board member at PlayPenn.

Dan Hodge Henslow
People’s Light debut. Theatre Includes: Arden Theatre, Walnut Street Theatre, The Wilma Theater, InterAct, Theatre Exile, Delaware Theatre Company, Passage Theatre, Bristol Riverside, the Old Globe (San Diego), Primary Stages (New York), Bridge Street Theatre, and numerous Shakespeare Festivals. A co-founder of the Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, he has directed Duchess of Malfi, Timon of Athens, Mary Stuart, and created his solo adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Rape of Lucrece. Barrymore awards: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play (Fair Maid of the West, 2015); Outstanding Leading Actor in a Play (Around the World in 80 Days, 2011); Best Ensemble in a Play (Glengarry Glen Ross, 2007). Training: MFA (The Old Globe in San Diego).

Justin Jain Wessex
People’s Light: Treasure Island (2007 & 2011), Aladdin, Gossamer. Theatre Includes: Justin Jain is a Wilma HotHouse Company member, previously appearing in Dance Nation, There, and Romeo & Juliet, among many others. Recent credits include Man of God and The Great Leap (2019 Barrymore for Outstanding Performance in a Play; InterAct), This is The Week That Is (1812 Productions), and Broccoli, Roosevelt, & Mr. House! (FringeArts) with his Barrymore nominated alt-comedy theatre company, The Berserker Residents. Additionally, he has performed Off-Broadway and with regional theaters including Arden Theatre, Lantern Theatre, Azuka, FringeArts, Shakespeare in Clark Park, McCarter Theatre, Theatre Horizon, Passage Theatre, Milwaukee Rep, The Assembly in Edinburgh, ASU Gammage, and Ars Nova NYC. Upcoming: No Child at Arden Theatre Company.

Anthony Lawton Burbage
People’s Light debut. Theatre Includes: Twenty-seven years of acting in Philadelphia. Favorite roles include George in Of Mice and Men (Walnut Street Theatre), “man” in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (1812 Productions); and Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet (Arden Theatre). In 2005, Lawton received grants from the Independence Foundation and Philadelphia Theatre Initiative to write and develop The Foocy, which garnered five Barrymore nominations (including Best New Play). In 2016, his adaptation of The Light Princess (with music by Alex Bechtel) was nominated for 8 Barrymores, winning for Best Original Music. The Philadelphia City Paper named him the city’s “Best One-Man Theatre” for his solo productions of The Devil and Billy MarkhamThe Great Divorce, and The Screwtape Letters. Website:

Mark Lazar Sir Robert de Lesseps/Boatman
Company Member since 1998. People’s Light: Recent favorites include Our Town, The Matchmaker, Sense and Sensibility, The Cherry Orchard, The Rainmaker, King Lear, The Foreigner, and all the Pantos. Theatre Includes: East Lynne Theatre (Zorro! and Nat Miller in Ah Wilderness!); North Carolina Shakespeare Festival (12 seasons; 10 Christmas Carols as Ebenezer Scrooge), Madison Repertory Theatre (10 seasons; Founding Member), American Players Theatre, Milwaukee Rep and most of Wisconsin’s other professional theatres. Also: Charlotte Rep, Festival Stage of Winston-Salem, New American Theater, Cider Mill Playhouse and National Tours with Great American Children’s Theatre (Charlotte’s Web). Film/Television Includes: Frame of Mind, Folkbooks (PBS Award), Shake Rag Alley. Radio: Ebenezer Scrooge in Delaware Public Radio’s annual theatrical broadcast of A Christmas Carol. University of Wisconsin Deans List. 17 years professional Broadcaster, U.S. and International.

Jaime Maseda Shakespeare
People’s Light debut. Theatre Includes: A Room at the Flamingo Hotel (upcoming, Azuka), Indecent (Arden), The Appointment (Lightning Rod Special), The Gap (Azuka), A People and Breathe Smoke (Orbiter 3), HOLDEN (George & co.), Jean & Terry (Kelly Bond & Mel Krodman, FringeArts), Age & Beauty, part 2 (Miguel Gutierrez), Twelfth Night (Pig Iron). Barrymore Nominee for Outstanding Ensemble (The Appointment, 2019) and Supporting Performance (The Gap, 2018).

Rachel Massey Musician
People’s Light debut. Theatre Includes: Indecent (Arden Theatre), Ragtime (Arden Theatre), Murder on the Orient Express (Resident Ensemble Players). Orchestras & Ensembles: Boston Philharmonic, Prometheus Chamber Orchestra. Training: Berklee School of Music, Longy School of Music, Denver University, Aspen Music Festival & School.

Stephen Novelli Fennyman
Company Member since 1974. People’s Light: Artistic Associate; Co-Artistic Director 1993-1997; Associate Artistic Director 1997-2009. Actor: Hamlet, Sister Carrie, A Christmas Carol, Julius Caesar, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Legacy of Light, King Lear, The Winter’s Tale, How to Write a New Book for the Bible, Richard III, The Matchmaker, Morning’s at Seven, Romeo & Juliet: A RequiemFor Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday. Director: Dutchman, Glengarry Glen Ross, Valley Song, Measure for Measure, Camping With Henry And Tom, Tuesdays with Morrie, The Mystery of Sherlock Holmes. Theatre Includes: The Beaux Stratagem (Barter Theatre), Philadelphia, Here I Come (Soho Rep), Rumors (Walnut Street Theatre), The Tempest (Arden Theatre), A Skull in Connemara (Lantern Theatre Company), Eurydice and Angels in America (Wilma Theater), Inherit The Wind (Bristol Riverside Theatre).

Pax Ressler Sam
People’s Light debut. Theatre Includes: performer and music director of This Is The Week That Is (1812 Productions), performer and composer for the Barrymore Award-winning Contradict This! A Birthday Funeral for Heroes (The Bearded Ladies Cabaret), composer and sound designer of CLICK (Simpatico Theatre), music supervisor of Mr. Burns (Wilma Theater), Viola in Twelfth Night (Shakespeare in Clark Park), collaborator and music guide for The Octopus and the Interview (Nichole Canuso Dance Company), Hollis in Road Show (11th Hour Theatre Company), co-creator of Art Isn’t Easy, a satirical video series about the trials and triumphs of being an artist. Senior Lecturer at the University of the Arts. Up next: music director and arranger for Tyndale Place (1812 Productions). Website:

Bailey Roper Webster
People’s Light debut. Theatre Includes: Off-Broadway: Galatea (WP Theater). Regional: Jess and Joe (upcoming, Tiny Dynamite); Tiny Beautiful Things (Arden); Whisper’s Gone (Theatre Exile); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival); Twelfth Night (Shakespeare in Clark Park); The Last Door (Ethos Physical Theater/Orlando Fringe). Training: BFA, Acting (University of the Arts).  Core Ensemble Member of Plant Me Here (2017-2018).  Bailey’s solo work and collaborative work with Elliott Arrick has been shown at Singe Carrot Theatre, Icebox Project Space, Vox Populi, Elsewhere Museum, Davinci Art Alliance, UNCG ArtTruck, DOTBiZ: Cranbrook Academy, and Genevieve’s house.

Mary Elizabeth Scallen Nurse
Company member since 1991. People’s Light: Last seen as Lady Nottingham in Little Red Robin Hood, Wendy in For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday, Big Gus the Rat in Cinderella, Charlotte in Moon Over Buffalo; serves as Artistic Associate, writer, project manager. Theatre Includes: Last seen in Indecent (Arden Theatre); Broads (1812 Productions); Silent Sky (East Lynne Theatre in Cape May, NJ). Also Bristol Riverside Theatre, Gretna Theatre, Juniper Productions, Lantern Theater Company, North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival, PlayPenn, Weston Playhouse (VT), Wilma Theater. Other: Consults for FAIMER (Foundation for International Medical Education and Research) on faculty development and cross-cultural communication; coaches business, health, and education professionals in presentation skills. Training: BA in Psychology, BA in Theatre (University of Michigan), MFA in Acting (Temple University).

Jahzeer Terrell Ned
People’s Light debut. Theatre Includes: France in King Lear (Quintessence Theatre Group), Olga in Three Sisters Two (EgoPo Classic Theater), Cameron in Mary Rose (PAC), Sebastian in Twelfth Night (Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival). Upcoming: Clitandre in Misanthrope (Lantern Theater). Training: BFA (The University of the Arts).

Justin Yoder Musician
People’s Light debut. Theatre Includes: Ragtime, Indecent, Once, Fun Home, The Secret Garden, Passion (Arden Theatre Company); The Bridges of Madison County (Philadelphia Theatre Company); Minor Fantastical Kingdoms, The Elephant Man (Delaware REP); A Period of Animate Existence (Pig Iron); Something Wicked This Way Comes (Delaware Theatre Company); Peaceable Kingdom (Orbiter 3); Lizzie (11th Hour); A New Brain, Into the Woods (Theatre Horizon). Film/Television Includes: Web series: Art Isn’t Easy. Film soundtracks: Black Christmas, The Informer, Hold the Dark. Training: M.M. (Temple University)

Shakespeare in Love previews Wednesday, February 26; Thursday, February 27; and Friday, February 28 at 7:30pm. The play opens on Saturday, February 29 at 8pm and runs through Sunday, March 29. Standard tickets start at $45, including fees. $35 preview tickets are available February 26-28. For tickets, call the Box Office at 610.644.3500 or visit

Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For more information or to purchase group tickets, call Group Sales Associate Kelly Benedict at 610.647.1900 x111 or email


Shakespeare in Love is recommended for ages 13+ due to mild sexual situations and some profanity. Approximate run time is 2 hours and 35 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission.


Flexible subscription packages are available for the remainder of the 2019/2020 Season at People’s Light. Productions include Shakespeare in Love (February 26 – March 29); Hold These Truths (March 18 – April 19); Bayard Rustin: Inside Ashland (May 13 – June 7); Mary Jane (June 24 – July 19)and Songs for Nobodies (August 5 – 30). Visit or call 610.644.3500 for more information.

Actors, prices, productions, performance dates and times are subject to change. Additional service charges will apply. Contact the Box Office for more details.


Beginning with the 2pm performance of Shakespeare in Love on March 7, People’s Light will offer Smart Caption Glasses, which provide customizable, in-line captioning of the play’s text within smart glasses. In partnership with the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University and the National Theatre of Great Britain, People’s Light is the first theatre in the United States to offer Smart Caption Glasses to theatre audiences.


People’s Light offers a range of devices and support freely available for the use of our patrons, including Audio Devices & T-Coil Loops, Fidgets & noise-canceling headphones, ASL interpreters at select performances, and Audio Descriptions. Visit to learn more.


Arrive early for Drinks & Dramaturgy. Explore our dramaturgy board, an interactive lobby display that provides context to enhance your experience of the production, as you enjoy a glass of wine or beer from concessions. (And yes, you can take your food and drinks inside the theatre!)


Join Resident Dramaturg Gina Pisasale and a member of the cast at Scoop on Wednesdays, a lively pre-performance discussion with light snacks. Get behind-the-scenes info about our production and learn more about the context of the play. Scoop starts at 6pm at the Congdon Center Conference Room (inside the Steinbright Stage lobby) before 7:30pm performances on March 18 and 25. Now only $5 and available for purchase online.

Stay for AfterWORDS, informal post-show Q&As immediately following Thursday evening performances on March 5, 12, 19, and 26.


Open Caption performances of Shakespeare in Love are March 24 at 7:30pm, March 25 at 2pm and 7:30pm, March 26 at 7:30pm, March 27 at 7:30pm, March 28 at 2pm and 8pm, and March 29 at 2pm. During these performances, the actors’ lines appear on a small LED screen near the stage as they speak.

People’s Light offers a Relaxed Performance of Shakespeare in Love on Sunday, March 15 at 2pm. This performance creates a welcoming environment designed to let you be who you are. Relaxed Performances invite, but are not limited to, individuals with Autism, ADD, ADHD, dementia, and sensory sensitivities, so that everyone can take part in the joy of theatre. Tickets to our Relaxed Performances are half-priced. For more information, contact the Box Office at 610.644.3500.

To further expand access to our work, we offer select half-priced performances throughout the season. The 50% off Access Night for Shakespeare in Love is March 26 at 7:30pm. Your discount is automatically applied when purchasing tickets.

Service animals are welcome at all performances at People’s Light. The theatre offers a designated relief area and water bowl for their comfort.


Enjoy Dinner & A Show packages at the Farmhouse Bistro prior to select Wednesday through Sunday performances. Wednesday, Thursday, or Sunday evening dinner packages start at $82. Friday and Saturday packages start at $90. That’s a savings of up to 15% off the single ticket price. We also offer Brunch Packages that include brunch at The Bistro paired with tickets to Sunday matinee performancesCall the Box Office at 610.644.3500.

Located next to The Bistro is a full-service catering venue, The Farmhouse at People’s Light, perfect for weddings, corporate events, and special celebrations. Contact the Farmhouse Sales Team at 610.647.1631 x156 or


Now in its 45th seasonPeople’s Light, a professional, not-for-profit theatre in Chester County, Pennsylvania, makes plays drawn from many sources to entertain, inspire, and engage our community. We extend our mission of making and experiencing theatre through arts education programs that excite curiosity about, and deepen understanding of, the world around us. These plays and programs bring people together and provide opportunities for reflection, discovery, and celebration. Founded in 1974, we produce eight to nine plays each season, in two black box theatres with 340 and 160 seats respectively, mixing world premieres, contemporary plays, and fresh approaches to classic texts. Through two new play initiatives, New Play Frontiers and the Harmony Lab, People’s Light currently has seven active play commissions. Of our 452 productions, over a third (171) have been world or regional premieres.


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