BWW Review: INTO THE BREECHES! at Florida Repertory Theatre
Playing now in the Historic Arcade Theatre
INTO THE BREECHES! at Florida Repertory Theatre tells the story of a group of women who band together during World War II to take on and perform Shakespeare plays in a time when the theatre industry was typically only run by men.
Maggie Dalton (Amy Hutchins) is determined to direct the show her husband had planned before he had to leave to fight in the war. She wants to continue the theatrical legacy he has created by doing a female-led Shakespeare “Henriad” (Henry IV and Henry V). The only issue is, this show takes place in a time when this was unprecedented and women did not direct, so as you can imagine, it was a bit of a difficult process for Maggie. But, she truly fought for the production and her cast, and I admired her determination.
In addition to their courageous leader, Maggie, the rest of the characters include the fiery veteran actress Celeste Fielding (Carol Halstead), the hilarious and jolly Winifred Snow (Jan Neuberger), the strong and talented costume designer, Ida Green (Shannon Harris), the young and sweet June Bennett (Emma Badger), the shy and nervous Grace Richards (Jackie Schram), the stubborn board president, Ellsworth Snow (V Craig Heidenreich), and the smart and brave stage manager, Stuart Lasker (Kevin Loreque).
I loved this cast. Each one of them played their role so well, and I loved how they really defined the personalities of each of their characters. One of my favorite aspects of the show was seeing how each one of them grew and changed throughout the process of rehearsing for the Henriad. Some of them start out a bit rough with their acting, but they soon break out of their shells, grow confidence, learn to accept certain aspects of themselves, and are ready to take on something that they are not sure will be a success. Beyond the play, this group is dealing with so many other really difficult things. With the war raging and most of their husbands gone, every day carries the weight of “what if.” I really enjoyed seeing their unity and sisterhood grow as they progressed through the story.
Another part of this story that I really appreciated was the womens’ acceptance of both Ida and Stuart into the show. Though the two of them face some different difficulties in this time period than the rest of the group, I was thrilled to see that a place was made for them in this show. Not just because they were needed, but because they were also wanted.
The show was directed by Eleanor Holdridge, with set design by Dennis Maulden, costume design by Charlene Gross, lighting design by Rob Siler, sound design by Adam Trummel, and fight choreography by Zeke Bocklage. This team has come together alongside the cast to bring a brilliant piece of theatre to life, and I appreciated each detail put into the show. I especially appreciated Holdridge as the director, as I think it made the context of the story extra special in this production.
INTO THE BREECHES! is smart, hilarious, impactful, and one of my favorite pieces of theatre I have seen recently. It really is a show that lingers with you (and we know how important that is). I thoroughly enjoyed this production, and think it holds something special for everyone. It inspired me, made me laugh, and made me think. With a phenomenal cast, an incredibly talented creative team, and a vibrant and triumphant storyline, this is not a show to be missed.
Get your tickets now! For more info and to buy tickets, click here: https://www.floridarep.org/the-season/into-the-breeches/