Show artwork for Shakespeare in Love
Media Release

Shakespeare in Love

Melbourne Theatre Company's most ambitious production to date, Shakespeare in Love, will have its Australian premiere on Friday 19 July at Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse, before going on to play at Canberra Theatre Centre from 22-31 August.

Director Simon Phillips has reunited with set and costume designer Gabriela Tylesova (Twelfth Night, Muriel’s Wedding: The Musical), whose intricate designs of 80 costumes are being crafted on site at MTC HQ by 40 wardrobe staff, including two bespoke shoemakers, two wig makers, two art finishers and two milliners. A dedicated team will make 30 Elizabethan ruffs by hand, each taking more than a day to craft, including one for a special canine castmember, Daisy, playing the role of Spot.

Tylesova's stunning costumes will adorn Michael Wahr (Othello) as Will Shakespeare and Claire van der Boom (Double Indemnity) as Viola de Lesseps, as well as Aljin Abella (Aladdin), Luke Arnold (INXS: Never Tear Us Apart), Laurence Boxhall (Talking ‘Bout Your Generation), Tyler Coppin (Born Yesterday), Daniel Frederiksen (The Lady in the Van), Francis Greenslade (The Odd Couple), Peter Houghton (Three Little Words), John Leary (Glitch), Adam Murphy (His Girl Friday), Deidre Rubenstein (A Doll’s House, Part 2), Chris Ryan (Lazarus) and Aaron Tsindos (Muriel’s Wedding: The Musical).

Lee Hall's (Billy Elliot) sparkling adaptation of Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman’s Oscar-winning script will feature music by Paddy Cunneen performed live on stage by the ensemble.

MTC Artistic Director & CEO Brett Sheehy said, 'This is undoubtedly the largest-scale show we have undertaken in recent memory at MTC and so, of course, we have entrusted this Elizabethan colossus to none other than Simon Phillips, invoking his unmistakable flair and precision to realise this joyous ode to theatre itself. I'm immensely proud of the many master craftspeople we are fortunate to have within MTC, whose remarkable talent and finesse will bring Simon's epic vision to life'.   

Director Simon Phillips said, ‘This is a real treat. Shakespeare in Love is far and away my favourite romantic comedy – unsurprisingly, given that it combines the work of two of my favourite playwrights: William Shakespeare and Tom Stoppard. It deliciously mixes the rudimentary stuff of life – comedy, passion, music and mayhem – with the more cerebral pleasures of wit and literary allusion. And given how much I enjoy the challenge of transferring films to the stage, the chance to work on Lee Hall’s excellent adaptation, with a cast of Melbourne’s finest character actors, is an absolute gift’.

Young Will Shakespeare has a bad case of writer’s block and desperately needs a muse. His new comedy, Romeo and Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter, is less than inspired and he’s running out of time to deliver his next masterpiece. That is until he meets Viola, and a real-life Romeo and Juliet story starts to take hold. But Viola has a secret and this damned Romeo play is turning out to be nothing like the comedy the Queen demanded.

Internationally renowned director Simon Phillips was MTC’s Artistic Director from 2000–2011. Over his 30 year history with the Company he has directed an impressive number of productions, with his recent MTC credits including Twelfth Night, Macbeth, North by Northwest, Pennsylvania Avenue, The Importance of Being Earnest, Hamlet, Songs for Nobodies, Richard III, The Drowsy Chaperone and August: Osage Country. His production of Muriel’s Wedding: The Musical premiered at Sydney Theatre Company in 2017 receiving widespread praise and numerous award nominations. In 2015, Simon directed the award-winning Australian musical Ladies in Black for Queensland Theatre, which went on to have a highly successful season with MTC in 2016, followed by a commercial tour in 2017. On the commercial stage, his productions include Dream Lover, the 2016 Australian tour of The Beast as well as Priscilla Queen of the Desert, the Musical; Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies, and Eat Pray Laugh – Barry Humphries’s farewell tour, all of which have had various international seasons. Simon has won seven Green Room Awards and five Helpmann Awards.    

Cast Aljin Abella, Luke Arnold, Laurence Boxhall, Tyler Coppin, Daniel Frederiksen, Francis Greenslade, Peter Houghton, John Leary, Adam Murphy, Deidre Rubenstein, Chris Ryan, Aaron Tsindos, Claire van der Boom, Michael Wahr

Director Simon Phillips
Set & Costume Designer Gabriela Tylesova
Lighting Designer Matt Scott
Musical Director Andrew Kroenert
Choreographer Andrew Hallsworth
Fight Director Nigel Poulton
Voice & Dialect Coach Leith McPherson
Associate Set Designer Jacob Battista  
Associate Costume Designers Dann Barber, Janet Hine
Associate Lighting Designer Clare Springett
Assistant Director Jess Burns

Melbourne Season
15 July – 14 August
Opening Night
Friday 19 July
Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse
03 8688 0800

Canberra Season
22 – 31 August
Opening Night  
Friday 23 August
Canberra Theatre Centre
02 6275 2700  


Originally produced on the West End by Disney Theatrical Productions & Sonia Friedman Productions, directed by Declan Donnellan, and designed by Nick Ormerod.

Published on 22 May 2019