Meet the Cast: "Shakespeare in Love"

Tania Thompson
 | Jan 16, 2018
Shakespeare in Love Cast Photo

Paul David Story with the cast and with Carmela Corbett (inset) in Shakespeare in Love.

Young Will Shakespeare and Lady Viola de Lesseps—or rather, actors Paul David Story and Carmela Corbett—head up a nearly two-dozen-strong cast for Shakespeare in Love. The ensemble is a mix of new and returning faces and includes a couple who met a decade ago while doing another play, two SCR alums whose specialty license plates attest to their love of things Elizabethan and Shakespearean, a The Walking Dead alumnus and a heart-melting canine.


Carmela Corbett
Role: Viola de Lesseps
At SCR: Smokefall, Eurydice.
My other credits include: An Inspector Calls (London’s West End), The Steward of Christendom (Mark Taper Forum), “Mad Men,” “Undercover,” Rehearsal, Mississippi Requiem.
My favorite Shakespeare play: Hamlet. It was the first Shakespeare play that I was in. I recently had the opportunity to work with British stage veteran Maxine Peak on some of Hamlet's soliloquies. It was, and she is, quite amazing!
Viola is: The embodiment of a true romantic and is fanatical about poetry and the theatre. She begins the play as a somewhat youthful dreamer and, over the course of it, finds her strength and voice as she comes into her full womanhood.
What drew me to Shakespeare in Love: It was an iconic, modern film and the greatest love story ever written—combined! And, the chance to speak the words of both Romeo and Juliet! Heaven! Somewhat ironically, I rarely have had the opportunity to work on British plays, so it's been wonderful to embody a character in my mother tongue and whom I can relate to on an instinctual, gut level.
Why this is a great play for Shakespeare fans and first-timers: The writing is fantastically clever so the die-hard Shakespeare fans will be tickled no doubt by all the nods to his plays and iconic lines. For first-timers? Well, who doesn't love a romance? And the language is perfectly accessible for the Shakespeare novice and equally appealing to the pro!
If I had to choose between quill and inkwell or a ballpoint pen: I’d love to be as romantic as Viola and say quill and inkwell, but…I tend always to be rushing about in a hurry so, for sheer sake of boring practicality, ballpoint!


Paul David Story
Role: Will Shakespeare
At SCR: Red.
My other credits include: Equus, The Caine Mutiny Court Martial (Broadway), Our Leading Lady, The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel (off-Broadway), The Lion in Winter, Pride & Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, Cymbeline, Macbeth, “The Mentalist,” “Body of Proof,” “Nip/Tuck,” “Law & Order: SVU.”
My favorite Shakespeare play: That’s a tough question, and I would have quickly answered Much Ado about Nothing and Henry V. But, given Shakespeare in Love and this cast, how could I not add Romeo and Juliet?
Will has: Poured aspects of himself into all of his characters, so this makes playing him wonderfully intriguing. He embodies Juliet, Romeo, Mercutio, a Priest, a mother, a nurse and others. Yet, he is constantly a struggling, anxious writer. His nurturing concern for his characters and need to express their desires drives his actions.
What drew me to Shakespeare in Love: I was attracted by the script, and the opportunity to portray a favorite writer but, ultimately, it is the entire project: working with Marc [Masterson, director] and the amazing group of talented actors, designers and crew.
Why this is a great play for Shakespeare fans and first-timers: It’s the peeking behind the stage curtain while enjoying the action onstage. It allows the audience to invest in the drama because we see the cost and risk to the actors and writer involved.
If I had to choose between quill and inkwell or a ballpoint pen: Although I love the notion and romantic feel of a quill and ink, I have to say that, personally, I write with a ballpoint pen and still enjoy the lost art of letter writing.


Ricky Abilez
Role(s): Sam/Juliet
At SCR: I am making my debut!
My other credits include: Sweeney Todd (Southgate Productions), Secret in the Wings (Coeurage Theatre Company), Señor Plummer’s Final Fiesta (Rogue Artists Ensemble), It’s Dark Here.
My favorite Shakespeare play: I adore The Scottish Play. The drama. The depth of character. The moral choices. The lust for power and how it leads to madness and chaos. There is so much to learn from each character.
What draws me to Shakespeare in Love: The romance! It's hard not to fall in love with these characters. The writing is so incredibly witty and specific.
Quill & inkwell or a ballpoint pen: Quill and inkwell—I like pretending I'm fancy.


Corey Brill
Role: Kit Marlowe
At SCR: Office Hour, Of Good Stock, Five Mile Lake, Smokefall, Pride and Prejudice.
Other credits include: The Best Man, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (Broadway), Cabaret (first national tour), “The Walking Dead.”
My favorite Shakespeare play: I’ve always loved Hamlet and ​it was the first Shakespeare play that I read in school. It felt accessible even then—all that revenge and madness.
What drew me to Shakespeare in Love: I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that actors love stories about actors! And this story is almost a fan-fiction interpretation of Shakespeare’s writing—it creates a fun and loose world in which to play.
Quill & inkwell or ballpoint: Quill and inkwell; maybe it would force me to improve my handwriting.


Bill Brochtrup
Role: Lord Wessex
At SCR: Noises Off, Taking Steps, The Real Thing, Ben and the Magic Paintbrush.
My other credits include: Secrets of the Trade (off-Broadway, Primary Stages), Snakebit, Life as We Know It, He’s Just Not That into You, Hypnotized, “Major Crimes.”
My favorite Shakespeare play: As co-artistic director of the Antaeus Theatre Company, I've had the pleasure of producing Shakespeare plays starring some of my fellow Shakespeare in Love cast mates (Bo Foxworth in Macbeth, Stephen Caffrey in Henry IV, Part 1 and Elyse Mirto in As You Like It). Great actors make Shakespeare come alive.
What drew me to Shakespeare in Love: The thing that attracts me most? Of course, it's the dog!
Quill & inkwell or a ballpoint pen: Ballpoint. I would definitely skip the quill and inkwell because when you write with your left hand, you smear the wet ink right across the page. Messy!


Stephen Caffrey
Role(s): Lambert, Sir Robert de Lesseps, Burbage’s Heavy, Abraham
At SCR: Bach and Leipzig.
My other credits include: Stage Kiss, Yes, Prime Minister (Geffen Playhouse), Henry IV, King Lear, Autumn Gardens (Antaeus Theatre Company), Heartbreak House (Berkeley Repertory), “American Odyssey,” “Seinfeld,” “Tour of Duty,” Cinema Verité.
My favorite Shakespeare play: King Lear—it’s got great men’s and women’s roles and beautiful language.
What drew me to Shakespeare in Love: Tom Stoppard [playwright who wrote the original screenplay] and the comic insight into theatre.
Quill & inkwell or ballpoint pen: Ballpoint…I’m lazy.


Alicia Erlinger
Role(s): Mistress Quickly, Molly, Lady-in-Waiting
At SCR: I am making my debut (plus, I’m an alumna of the Theatre Conservatory’s Acting Intensive Program)!
My other credits include: The Comedy of Errors, As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing.
My favorite Shakespeare play: Henry IV, Part 2. It is a story about the transformation of Prince Hal, from a rebellious son to the King of England, who faces the burden and responsibility of power. These are themes which continue to resonate today. The play is also one of the four plays to feature Mistress Quickly as a character!
What drew me to Shakespeare in Love: It’s a celebration of the theatre and is accessible to all. Audiences familiar with Shakespeare's life and work will love the inside jokes. Those less familiar will enjoy the comic characters, story and production values. Hopefully, they will be inspired to read and see more Shakespeare plays.
Quill & inkwell or ballpoint pen: Quill and ink, please. Even better if I can write with various colors of ink!


Bo Foxworth
Role: Henslowe
At SCR: All the Way, Amadeus.
My other credits include: King Charles III (Pasadena Playhouse), Building the Wall (Fountain Theatre), Cloud 9, Henry IV, The Crucible, “Modern Family,” “VEEP,” All the Way (HBO).
My favorite Shakespeare play: Wow, that’s a tough one. I struggle between two and really, it’s about how badly I want to do them: Hamlet and Richard III. What I love most about Hamlet is simply the story and his journey: You come back home from school to find your uncle has basically usurped your place after your father’s death and married your mother, but your father’s ghost tells you that he was murdered by that uncle and, well, we all know the rest. This is some of the most beautiful and complex language ever written in the English language and, arguably, has no peer. I’ve been lucky enough to play both Hamlet and Richard III and I know I would do almost anything to play either of them again.
What drew me to Shakespeare in Love: The humorous, romantic and sometimes poignant story of this playwright and his struggle to create one of the greatest plays ever written: Romeo and Juliet. Though it’s a fabricated story, I believe it reveals the real struggles of being a writer and creating something. But I think the best part is the humor with which it’s done, particularly for theatre people. There are so many great inside jokes about the theatre and nods to so many of Shakespeare's plays. I love that!
Quill & inkwell or ballpoint pen: If I take ​this choice metaphorically I can say, unequivocally, quill and inkwell. Since I was a very young boy I always wanted to be a knight. Growing up in a very rural area with horses, I was sometimes able to take that fantasy to another level. I became an expert horseman and practiced sword fighting, which led me to becoming a competitive fencer for the UCLA fencing team with the saber. I even had a personalized license plate that said CHVALRY. I think I always felt that I was meant to live in another time period and that may be part of the reason I enjoy performing Shakespeare’s plays so much.


Nick Gabriel
Role(s): Ned Alleyn
At SCR: Ordinary Days, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
My other credits include: Endgame, A Soldier’s Tale.


Matt Henerson
Role(s): Ralph, Catling
At SCR: Hamlet.
My other credits include: Flashdance The Musical (national tour); Twelve Angry Men; Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; Musical Theatre West; San Diego Repertory; Shakespeare festivals in Arizona, Colorado, Marin, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Utah; Ahmanson Theatre; “The Fosters,” “Hung,” “The Jungle Book.”
My favorite Shakespeare play: Forget it—that’s like asking if I'd prefer to listen to Mozart, Bruce Springsteen or Ella Fitzgerald! The answer can change from minute to minute… Winter’s Tale (tick), Twelfth Night (tick) , King Lear (tick) , Merchant of Venice (tick) , Henry V (tick)…
What drew me to Shakespeare in Love: Where else am I going to get a chance to play Juliet's nurse?
Quill & inkwell or ballpoint pen: Anyone who has seen my handwriting will be lobbying hard for a Word document in 12-point Times New Roman font.


Lex Leigh
Role: Musician
At SCR: Interned as a musical direction assistant, Once.
My other credits include: Into the Woods, Fiddler on the Roof, 1940’s Radio Hour.
My favorite Shakespeare play: I love all of Shakespeare, but I have to say Romeo and Juliet. It is such a beautiful story and it is the inspiration for West Side Story, my favorite musical.
What drew me to Shakespeare in Love? In addition to working with such a great group of people, I have the opportunity to play so many fun instruments that I don’t normally get to play.
Quill & inkwell or ballpoint pen: Definitely quill and inkwell.


Louis Lotorto
Role(s): Richard Burbage, Sampson
At SCR: Amadeus, One Man, Two Guvnors, A Christmas Carol, Taking Steps, Hamlet, Cyrano de Bergerac.
My other credits include: An Enemy of the People (with Sir Ian McKellan), A Flea in Her Ear, The Glass Menagerie, The Tempest.
My favorite Shakespeare play: The Tempest, for its theme of forgiveness and redemption. ​Since it's generally accepted by scholars to be Shakespeare's last written play, the character of Prospero giving up his Art at the end of the play parallels Shakespeare's own ,saying goodbye as a playwright by giving up the quill. That last speech of Prospero always reduces me to a puddle.
What drew me to Shakespeare in Love: The romanticism, the clever lines lifted from Shakespeare's actual plays and, of course, I get to swordfight, which always attracts me as an actor!
Quill & inkwell or ballpoint pen: My license plate is SHXPEAR and my license plate frane says, “I'd rather be writing sonnets”, so I'd definitely have to say quill!


James MacEwan
Role(s): Proteus, Waiter, Nol, Guard, Benvolio, Sampson
At SCR: Peter and the Starcatcher, Tartuffe, A Christmas Carol. I’m also an alumnus of the Theatre Conservatory’s Acting Intensive Program.
My other credits include: Productions in my native South Africa, Mamma Mia, The Rocky Horror Show, Grease, Don’t Drink the Water, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, “Wild at Heart,” “Generation Kill.”


Aaron McGee
Role(s): Valentine, Barman, Peter, Tybalt, Adam, Gregory, Guard
At SCR: A Christmas Carol (plus, I’m an alumnus of the Theatre Conservatory’s Acting Intensive Program).
My other credits include: The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, The Little Prince (Chance Theatre), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Hamlet (American Coast Theatre Company) Holmes, Sherlock and the Consulting Detective.


William Francis McGuire
Role: Fennyman
At SCR: All the Way, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, A Wrinkle in Time, The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow, A Christmas Carol, Tartuffe.
My other credits include: The Rover, Naga Mandala, The Seagull, Peer Gynt (Guthrie Theater), Henry V, Macbeth (The Shakespeare Company), The Day After Tomorrow, Mission: Impossible III, “NCIS,” “CSI,” “The Mentalist,” “Without a Trace.”
My favorite Shakespeare play: ​That’s a hard call. Part of Shakespeare’s genius to me means that I respond differently to his plays at different life stages. In reflecting on this now, I found myself thinking a lot about King Lear. I think it has a lot to do with my son going off to college. While I’m not giving him my kingdom, I am sending him out into the world and releasing him into adulthood, with all the hopes and fears that every parent I’ve spoken with feels. So the themes of family, loyalty and what in life has true and lasting meaning are resonating very strongly with me at the moment.
What drew me to Shakespeare in Love: Because of technology, the age we live in now is one where we often know way more about people than we really need or want to, frankly. Do I really need to see photos of your morning omelet? Shakespeare’s life and times are shrouded in mystery. There are so many theories about his life and writing that will never be solved because all those things we take for granted didn’t exist back then. So this play is a fun and fanciful visit to the realm of possibility, untethered by the mundane facts of recorded existence. It incorporates true elements of theatrical people and life and creates a fun and thought-provoking fantastical look at what might have been.
Quill & inkwell or ballpoint pen: Ballpoint pen. I would just splatter the ink all over the place if I had to use a quill.


Elyse Mirto
Role: Queen Elizabeth I
At SCR: It’s my debut.
My other credits include: Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Antaeus Theatre Company); Collective Rage (The Theatre @ Boston Court); Figaro, The Guardsman (A Noise Within), Twelfth Night, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing (Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival), White’s Lies (off-Broadway), “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal,” “NCIS,” “The Last Ship.”
My favorite Shakespeare play: Twelfth Night. I’ve played both Viola and Olivia. I love it because of its delicious dramatic ​and comedic elements. It’s heart-wrenching ​to watch Viola deal with losing her brother, an orphan in a foreign land, and survive only by hiding her identity and her love for Orsino. Then it’s hilarious watching Sir Toby and his pals screw with Malvolio, not to mention the mistaken identity silliness when Viola’s twin brother Sebastian shows up on the scene. There are fights and songs, laughter and tears. I just love it.
What drew me to Shakespeare in Love: It has all the same qualities of Twelfth Night and it’s wonderful to have such a big cast! Laughter, heartbreak, fights, music and, of course, the costumes! Plus, I get to be in a show with my beau, who conveniently is named Bo [Foxworth]. This is our first show together since we met 10 years ago doing a play. He may have a bigger part than me, playing Henslowe, but I, of course, have the better costumes as the Queen!
Quill & inkwell or ballpoint pen: Quill and inkwell sounds so romantic and if I knew how to do calligraphy, I would love it. But, alas, I’m a left-handed lady with poor penmanship, so I must settle for the ballpoint.


Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper
Role(s): Frees, Wabash, Prince
At SCR: Once, Lucky Duck, The Borrowers, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.
My other credits include: Rothschild & Sons, Lonesome Traveler, Julius Caesar (off-Broadway), Of Mice and Men, Side By Side By Sondheim, Sherlock Holmes, Words By: Ira Gershwin and the Great American Songbook, “Fuller House,” “Superstore,” “Casual.”


David Nevell
Role: Edmund Tilney
At SCR: Peter and the Starcatcher.
My other credits include: Twelve Angry Men, The Odd Couple, A Walk in the Woods, God of Carnage, Twelfth Night, The Comedy of Errors, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Amadeus, Anything Goes, My Fair Lady, The Morini Strad.


Bing Putney
Role: John Webster
At SCR: It’s my debut!
My other credits include: The Santaland Diaries (Triad Stage), This Beautiful City (Humana Festival of New American Plays), A Christmas Carol, Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Actors Theatre of Louisville), “Eastbound and Down,” “One Tree Hill,” “Dawson’s Creek.”
My favorite Shakespeare play: The Tempest is closest to my heart. I was fortunate enough to work behind-the-scenes on a fantastic production, directed by our very own Marc Masterson, and that perspective provided a deep appreciation of its beautiful balance of romance, comedy and magic.
What drew me to Shakespeare in Love: The humor makes it a joy to perform and especially rewards any Shakespeare nerds in the audience. And its lovely use of Romeo and Juliet, perhaps the greatest romance ever written for the stage, elevates and enriches the emotional impact of the story.
Quill & inkwell or ballpoint pen: I prefer my old typewriter.


Adam Silver
Role(s) Robin, Boatman, Lady Capulet
At SCR: This is my SCR debut​.
My other credits include: Exit Strategy, Bad Jews, Sons of the Prophet, “Transparent,” “Masters of Sex,” “NCIS,” “Californication,” “Torchwood.”
My favorite Shakespeare play: I love the comedy of The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
What drew me to Shakespeare in Love: It's so romantic. I love the music and I love all of the inside jokes about the theatre.
Quill & inkwell or ballpoint pen: Quill and inkwell!


Scott Waara
Role: Musician
At SCR: Once, The Fantasticks, The Education of Randy Newman
My other credits include: The Most Happy Fella (Broadway), City of Angels, Welcome to the Club, Wind in the Willows (original casts), DuBarry Was a Lady, The Dining Room (off-Broadway), Mack and Mabel, Candide, Lucky Guy, Once (first national tour), Sweeney Todd, Big River (revival).


Amelia White
Role: Nurse
At SCR: A Christmas Carol, Silent Sky, Misalliance, The Heiress, The Importance of Being Earnest.
My other credits include: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (national tour), Crazy for You and The Heiress (Broadway), The Butter and Egg Man (off-Broadway), Peace in Our Time, Heathen Valley, Ernest in Love.
My favorite Shakespeare play: A Winter’s Tale because it’s such a beautifully crafted story of one person’s trial through his own personal loss of faith (Winter). Yet wonderful Shakespeare, he notes that after Winter there is always rebirth in hopeful Spring. ​Another favorite is The Tempest, his last play. I feel as if I’m closer than ever to hearing Shakespeare talk directly to me through this play. All the characters are so specific and so well-realized, especially Prospero, who actually does talk to us in the prologue. He ends with this: “Now I want spirits to enforce, art to enforce, and my ending is despair, unless I be relieved by prayer, which pierces so that it assaults Mercy itself and frees all faults. As you from crimes would pardon’d be, let your indulgence set me free.”
What drew me to Shakespeare in Love: There’s one moment when Viola, after reading Will’s lines for Romeo and Juliet, falls deeply in love ​through the power of words.
Quill & inkwell or ballpoint pen? I grew up writing with actual ink pens at school, so I’m happy with quill and ink. However, given today’s paper, I also need a ballpoint.


Fleur Zanna
Role: Kate
At SCR: This is my debut​. I am an alumna of the Theatre Conservatory’s Acting Intensive Program.
My other credits include: The Fight for Love, Life as a Mermaid.
My favorite Shakespeare play: A Midsummer Night’s Dream because it’s hilarious and utterly absurd, yet relatable, on so many levels.
What drew me to Shakespeare in Love: The story brings together such an unlikely and unusual assortment of characters and changes them for the better. And, of course, it’s funny and completely charming.
Quill & inkwell or ballpoint pen: Quill and inkwell, all the way!


Role: Spot
At SCR: Shakespeare in Love is my debut! But don’t tell anyone that I slept through some of the rehearsals.
What I like to hear: “Good girl!”
What I like to have: Treats!

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