Rosaline & Baldasar
Browncoat Pub & Theatre
111 Grace Street • 910-341-0001
March 8-10, 15-17, 22-24 & 29-30
8 p.m. • 5 p.m. on Sundays
Gen Ad $15, Students $10
North Carolina born and bred, from Rocky Mount to be exact, Marlowe Moore can appreciate a good laugh—at least judging by her take on Shakespeare.
Before her move from Wilmington to Florida a few years ago, the writer and playwright saw her work on local stages, including “Three Men” and “Welcome to BreakUp Island.” She even won the Pushcart Prize for “Ashes of Love, Flame Burt Out.” Her journey as a writer began long before her classmates in kindergarten and continued after graduation from Chapel Hill. Having found her inner Shakespeare, she brought the story of two star-crossed lovers to life at Browncoat Pub and Theatre in 2007, with the first run of “Rosaline and Baldasar.” The response was phenomenal and artistic director Richard Davis took to the playwright immediately.
“I’m a huge fan of Marlowe’s work,” Davis says. “We’ve produced two of her shows in the past: The original production of ‘Rosaline & Baldasar’ and ‘Welcome to Break Up Island.’ Sadly, I didn’t get to be part of either of those due to commitments elsewhere. When the opportunity came around to direct ‘Rosaline & Baldasar,’ I jumped at it.”The story is a take on one of Shakespeare’s most famed plays, “Romeo and Juliet.” It follows Rosaline, the woman Romeo was hopelessly in love with before meeting Juliet, and Baldasar, presented as Romeo’s country cousin who has come to Verona to find a wife. The two start up a romance of their own.
encore spoke with Davis about its reprisal Browncoat Pub & Theatre. Performances run March 8th through the 30th, Thursday through Sundays, with a special Sunday, March 17th “Pay What You Can” performance. Tickets can be purchased by calling 910-341-0001 or by visiting www.browncoattheatre.com.
encore (e): Tell me about any changes made to Moore’s original script.
Richard Davis (RD): We originally produced “Rosaline & Baldasar” in 2007 when we were still a very small theatre company operating out of the basement of the Soapbox Laundro-Lounge. We built the little black box theatre that is now the Nutt Street Comedy Room. Back then the budgets were even smaller than they are now, if you can believe that, and our resources were even more limited. We chose to revive it this season so that it could be done on a grander scale that reflects how we’ve grown as a company in six or so years. The major changes will be improvements to the set, the costumes and the lighting. We’re not using role lights and aluminum foil anymore.
e: How are Shakespeare’s motives of forbidden love, love triangles, miscommunication, mistaken identity, language, etc. still preserved in “Rosaline & Baldasar”?
RD: In “Rosaline & Baldasar” Marlowe Moore displays a wonderful depth of knowledge for Shakespeare’s writing. The play operates on the fringes of the “Romeo & Juliet” story, giving audiences a view of that familiar tale from a new perspective. What’s most impressive about the script, in my opinion, is how Marlowe manages to work in so many of Shakespeare’s most common tropes. Shakespearean buffs will notice nods to “Twelfth Night,” “A Comedy of Errors,” “The Taming of the Shrew,” “Hamlet” and more. There’s even a wink toward the Scottish Play.
I can’t go into too much detail without giving away the story, but everything revolves around a pair of star-crossed lovers who, because of a miscommunication and an overly complex deception based on switching identities, think they fall in love with different people, and hilarity ensues.
e: Who are the performers and what about their characters will keep the audience laughing?
RD: Rosaline is played by Amber Davis. She brings an acerbic wit in an ingenue’s body. That contrast alone has been the source of many Shakespearean laughs. Throughout the directing process, I’ve noticed her developing a beautiful, romantic vulnerability beneath the hard, liberated woman’s exterior Roslaine needs to project.
Newlin Parker plays Baldasar as a Rhett Butler-esque swarthy rogue come to Verona to find a wife. I’ve rarely had the pleasure of directing one who moves onstage as well as Newlin. His body is perfectly attuned to his feelings and emotions. Newlin has proven very dedicated to developing his craft, and from day one, he was committed to bringing an honest and believable Baldasar to life. In a comedy, he has the difficult task of playing the straight man most of the time, and he does it very well.
Jessica Farmer’s turn as Rosaline’s maid Ferula will no doubt be the comedic hit of the play. She has the ability to turn tactics on a dime which lends to some gut-busting laugh moments. She’s also got a strong feel for physical comedy and her facial expressions are amazing.
In duel roles as the Friar and Lord Montegue, Ron Hasson does character-acting like no one else. His Friar is sexually repressed and lives vicariously through Rosaline’s tawdry confessions but deep down is completely committed to his job. His Montague is the exact opposite base, disgusting monarch with no manners.
e: How will the stage look, and who built the set?
RD: I’m very proud of our set for this show. Our new technical director, Amber Davis, and her crew did a wonderful job bringing my design to life. With this show I really wanted to showcase what we were capable of at the Browncoat. I wanted to create a highly detailed Italian Renaissance castle, complete with a courtyard garden, turrets and more. What Amber lacks in experience as a tech director, she more than makes up for with creativity and inspiration. Sometimes I think it’s even better that she doesn’t have an extensive background because it allows her to see things with a fresh set of eyes. She‘s never limited by the mindset of there only being one way to do things. Her set is absolutely beautiful with its bright colors and rich textures. Nothing is flat. Everything is textured and alive.
e: Will the costumes fit the old Shakespearean times, or are they designed to stay aligned with Moore’s comedic twist?
RD: I asked our costumer, Ron Hasson, to put together [something] that would give audiences a reflection of the Italian Renaissance, in which “Romeo & Juliet” is set, with a few small splashes of modernity that fit with Marlowe’s present-day humor. For example, the base costumes are empire waists and long skirts for the women and doublets with tights for the men. We spice them up with little things like Chuck Taylor sneakers and swatch watches. It’s a really fun and brightly colored costume design that nicely supports the mood of the play.
e: Is this a classic story of lost love, or will love finally be captured among Montague and Capulet hostilities?
RD: Let’s just say that “Rosaline & Baldasar” is a romantic comedy at heart.