The Catholic University of America

April 8, 2013

“Shakespeare in Hollywood” Celebrates CUA Drama


Local playwright Ken Ludwig’s “Shakespeare in Hollywood,” winner of the 2004 Helen Hayes Award for Best New Play, comes to Hartke Theatre as the final production of the drama department’s 2012-2013 season.

When Oberon and Puck, Shakespeare’s famously mischievous fairies, magically materialize on the 1934 Hollywood set of Max Reinhardt’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” they become enchanted by the glitzy world of showbiz. They join the production, playing themselves, and as they make it big on the silver screen, hilarity ensues.

“‘Shakespeare in Hollywood’ is a farce that gives a nostalgic nod to the Golden Age of Cinema, honoring many industry icons such as the Warner Brothers, Dick Powell, James Cagney, and Max Reinhardt,” said Gail Beach, chair of the drama department. “The drama department’s history is one that has given great devotion and study to classical texts, chief among them Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ Here we are able to look at those studies from an entirely different angle.”

The show is staged as a red carpet performance of the famous play, implicating the entire audience in the action of the story and making, as Beach noted, “all our world a stage, and every one of us its players,” to quote the Bard.

“There are times to move mountains with ideology in the arts,” Beach said. “There are also times to simply entertain and explore the intricacies of comic timing and physical humor. This is our focus. In doing this we pay homage to such respected performers as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and the Marx Brothers and expand the range of our actors’ skills and techniques.”

The production is directed by Jay D. Brock (M.F.A. 2009), clinical assistant professor of musical theatre in the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music. Brock assembled a cast of both graduate and undergraduate students from the drama department and the music school, and Beach said one of the principal features of the production process has been collaboration. The production is assistant directed by first year M.F.A directing student Elena Velasco.

The production will be performed during the department’s 75th anniversary celebrations as a special gala performance. The evening will include a pre-show reception from 7 to 8 p.m. and the opportunity to meet the playwright, Ken Ludwig.

“As consideration began for the right play to celebrate our 75th anniversary as a department, Shakespeare in Hollywood quickly rose to the forefront,” Beach said. “While Hartke Theater is known for producing some wonderfully thought-provoking, reflective, and sensitive work, this is a time of mirth and merriment—we want to laugh and enjoy.”

Performances will take place in Hartke Theatre, 3801 Harewood Road, at 7:30 p.m. on April 18-20 and 2 p.m. on April 20-21. There will be an additional 8 p.m. gala performance on April 26 as part of the drama department’s 75th anniversary celebrations.

Tickets are available online and can be purchased at the door at $15 for general admission; $10 for seniors and CUA alumni, faculty, and staff; and $5 for students. Tickets for the gala performance including the reception are $40. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit, email, or call 202-319-5358.

MEDIA: To cover this production, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy Hines in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.


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