Love's Labour's Lost
Romance and revelry abound in this loving musical adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy.
Show Essentials

Full Synopsis

The courtyard of an upscale, faux-rustic hotel resort in the area immediately outside a Northeastern college campus plays host to the fifth reunion celebration.

At midnight, upon leaving the reunion, the King reminds his best college friends, Berowne, Dumaine and Longaville, that the time has come to commit to the pledge they made at graduation. They have vowed to spend the next three years devoted to study and self-improvement, and live together, removed from all the pleasures of the world... especially women ("Prologue"). Berowne protests that vows like these go against the fun and raucous lives they should be leading as 26-year old young men ("Young Men"), but the King pushes back, and all four men recommit to their oaths. They retreat into a lodge on the hotel grounds to begin their monastic tenure.

Enter the Princess and her best college friends, Rosaline, Katherine, Maria and Boyet. Also in town for the reunion, the Princess takes the opportunity to do some business with the King on behalf of her father. The girls and Boyet have come to back her up ("Hey, Boys"). Just as the King returns outside, the Princess has second thoughts, panics and hides with her friends in the shrubbery. She explains that she had a fling with the King back in college, and the girls all bemoan their poor judgment in guys back in school ("Hey, Boys – Reprise"). The girls and Boyet return to the party for more liquid courage.

While soaking in the resort hot tub, another former classmate, Armado, seeks comfort from his "townie" pal, the bandleader at the local bar, Moth. Armado, a wealthy and flamboyant Spanish former exchange student, is in love with the barmaid at the cantina, Jaquenetta, but her indifference has made him extravagantly melancholy. Moth tries to make him feel better with a song about the unexpected objects of his own affection, but doesn't really succeed ("I Love Cats"). Suddenly, Dull, the campus security guard, enters with Jaquenetta and the bartender, Costard, in tow. Armado tries to woo Jaquenetta, but she doesn't seem interested and leaves. Alone, he sings to her with dancers and castanets ("Jaquenetta").

The Princess and her friends are back, and she's finally ready for business. The Princess rouses the men and addresses them with her complaint: the King owes her father money. But the King rebuts that; in fact, her family owes him. In the meantime, Berowne catches a moment alone to flirt with Rosaline, despite his recent vow ("Brabant Song"). The business matter between the Princess and the King remains unresolved, but the boys seize the opportunity to sneak over to Boyet to ask about the girls, and the girls recall their relationships with these very boys in college ("Brabant Song, Pt. 2"). Boyet is amused: although the boys don't seem to remember their exes, clearly they're smitten anew.

Armado writes a flowery (and slightly raunchy) love letter to Jacquenetta and gives it to Costard to deliver. Armado then bumps into Berowne, and they each recall their unlikely college friendship: Armado the romantic and Berowne the cynic ("Brabant Song, Pt. 3"). After Armado leaves, Berowne realizes that he envies Armado's openess to love and that he is indeed falling in love with Rosaline ("Change of Heart"). Berowne writes Rosaline a love letter and gives it to Costard to deliver. Not surprisingly, Costard gets the two letters mixed up.

The ladies and Boyet return, enraged that the boys refuse to negotiate with them or be hospitable enough to let them inside the lodge. The Princess says they will not budge, even if they have to stay all night in the courtyard. Enter Costard, who gives Rosaline the letter that was meant for Jaquenetta, causing all sorts of confusion. The Princess is dismissive; Rosaline is upset and takes her frustration out on Boyet. After they leave, Costard comments on their bad behavior and, joined by Dull and Jaquenetta, complains about all the rich people ("Rich People").

Two academics, Holofernes and Nathaniel, enter as the boys sing about the wonders of academia ("Academia"). The professors speak professorially until Jaquenetta appears and asks them to help her read the letter that Costard has delivered to her. The professors explain that the letter was actually meant for Rosaline. Alone again, Jaquenetta wonders whether there is any point in getting her hopes up for love ("Love's a Gun").

Berowne emerges from the lodge, sighing for his love of Rosaline. He hides when he hears the King enter, also sighing. The King, not seeing Berowne, secretly writes a sonnet to the Princess ("The King's Sonnet"). The King hides when he he hears Dumaine enter, sighing. Dumaine secretly writes a poem for Maria with Renaissance Faire backup ("Dumaine's Sonnet"). Dumaine, in turn, hides when Longaville enters, sighing. He is writing a sonnet to Katherine ("Longaville's Sonnet") which turns into an elaborate tap dance and kickline number. Dumaine reveals himself and calls Longaville out for breaking his vow, to Longaville's chagrin... but the King then reveals himself, to both men's chagrin. Finally, Berowne reveals himself, to general pandemonium. He accuses all three men of betraying him by betraying their oath. As his grandstanding climaxes, Jaquenetta enters, carrying Berowne's love letter to Rosaline. All four men are outed as having broken the vow to which they committed at the top of the show. What can they do? They turn to Berowne. With questionable logic – but excellent language skills – Berowne argues that, if they sincerely woo the ladies, they aren't really breaking their vows ("Are You a Man?"). Everyone is convinced, and the gentlemen go to prepare a series of performances to woo and wow the ladies.

The Professors encounter Armado, who explains that the King wants them to help prepare a show for the ladies. Holofernes suggests a hoary old pageant called The Nine Worthies, but abruptly changes her mind to presenting "The Tuba Song" instead. The professors, Armado, Costard, Dull and Moth, will all be a part of the performance. Everyone is thrilled by this idea. Everyone, that is, except for the Princess and her friends, who overhear Armado boasting about the plan. Why are the boys sending them love letters and putting on a show (dressing up like East German performance artists... in masks, no less)? It can't be real love, it must be boys just having a good time. In that case, the Princess argues, the best thing is to beat them at their own game. The ladies will also wear masks and switch identities so that the boys will woo the wrong girls ("It's Not a Good Idea"). Katherine, Maria and a somewhat begrudging Rosaline agree to join the charade.

Enter the gentlemen dressed as East German performance artists. They perform a complicated modern dance and woo the ladies. They then reveal themselves and are confused when the ladies do not respond with delight and kisses. As a last gasp gesture, they sing from the heart ("Labour of Love"). Unfortunately, they are each singing to the wrong girl, as they discover when the ladies remove their masks. The ladies laugh at their foolishness. All seems to be lost.

Berowne is genuinely upset at their failure and convinces Rosaline that he was being sincere in his love. She is also upset and berates the King and all the men, for making vows, just to instantly break them, as well as the Princess, for convincing her not to believe that Berowne could be sincere ("Stop Your Heart"). She runs off.

The Princess is moved by the genuine show of emotion and reveals her true feelings to the King ("I Don't Need Love"). Just as she and the King are about to reconcile, the performers enter with "The Tuba Song." Led by the example of the King and the Princess, all of the lovers are finally brought together. Rosaline reenters, making up with the Princess and reuniting with Berowne. A brass band plays, Armado finally wins Jaquenetta's affection, Nathaniel flirts with Boyet, Costard makes a pass at Holofernes... and even Moth is delighted by the appearance of Rum Tum Tugger from Cats, thus living out his feline fantasy. Dull knows that all of these rich people should be going home soon. All is well.

Then, suddenly, Mercadé enters with the news that the Princess' father has died. Distraught, she asks Boyet and the ladies to prepare to depart. The gentlemen's protests are to no avail. The ladies tell them that, if they are really sincere in their love, the boys must keep their vow and remain away from society and the pleasures of the world for one year. If they can stay true to their vow for a year, then they can all be together. If not, it was not meant to be.

There is one more performance, a song about the harshness of winter and the promise of spring ("The Owl and the Cuckoo"). As the rustics and the academics sing, the lovers make their bittersweet goodbyes before the ladies, Boyet and Mercadé depart on a wooden boat. The play comes to an end with the question of what the future will hold.

← Back to Love's Labour's Lost
Cast Size: Medium (11 to 20 performers)
Cast Type: Ensemble Cast
Dance Requirements: Standard

Character Breakdown

The King
Handsome and studied in elegance. Wears designer clothes and conceives himself the leader of this friendly foursome but he can easily be icy and lacks the spark of natural charm to which people tend to gravitate. Overcompensates. Can have a good time, and party like the best, but takes his future inordinately seriously. Had a relationship with The Princess in college.
Gender: male
Age: 26 to 26
Vocal range top: A#4
Vocal range bottom: C3
Attractive, easygoing middle class everyman. Has skeptical views on love. Yearns to have fun and live life fully. Brims with wit and charm. Briefly dated Rosaline in college.
Gender: male
Age: 26 to 26
Vocal range top: C#5
Vocal range bottom: A2
Neurotic, uptight, old school Ivy. The most academic of the bunch. Wears J. Press.
Gender: male
Age: 26 to 26
Vocal range top: A4
Vocal range bottom: C3
Butch, frat boy type. Always primed to do or say something outrageous. Swaggering skirt chaser.
Gender: male
Age: 26 to 26
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: Bb2
The Princess
Very charming, very wealthy, very pretty. Has pessimistic views on love, since she's been emotionally burned by boyfriends of the past once too often. Seems elegant at first glance but really can be pretty crass (in a charming abhorrent sort of way). Can be condescending to friends and cutting without realizing it. Had a relationship with The King in college.
Gender: female
Age: 26 to 26
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: G3
Strong, practical, clever. Sharp-tongued but good-natured, an excellent friend. The truth teller amongst her group. Briefly dated Berowne in college.
Gender: female
Age: 26 to 26
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: G3
Loveable sweet ditz. Naive and innocent outlook. Optimistic. A loyal friend
Gender: female
Age: 26 to 26
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: B3
Dry and deadpan. Caustic and shrewd, calls it like she sees it.
Gender: female
Age: 26 to 26
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: A3
The girls' well-coiffeed, smartly-dressed male hanger-on. Loves being the arm candy to the girls as they provide him access into all these fabulous worlds. He's not mean-spirited or cynical; he really loves and worships the girls and would do anything they ask of him. It's the unspoken rule.
Gender: male
Age: 26 to 26
Vocal range top: G4
Vocal range bottom: D3
Don Armado
Chubby, sweet-natured former international exchange student with a romantic's heart-of-poetry. Went to school with The King et al. but was never fully accepted by them. His father is an important wealthy Duke in Spain. Dreams and loves passionately.
Gender: male
Age: 26 to 26
Vocal range top: C5
Vocal range bottom: G2
Armado's lackey. Quick-witted, sassy, observant. Verbal trickster. Also works at Costard's Cantina and plays with the house band.
Gender: male
Age: 17 to 17
Vocal range top: G4
Vocal range bottom: C3
Poor guileless backwoods townie Sheriff. Slow-witted and even-tempered. There's not a lot going on in this small college town and yet he's perpetually in over his head.
Gender: male
Age: 40 to 45
Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: Eb3
Tall, lithe, carefree burn-out. The local bartender with a case of arrested development. Think Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused. Always up for a good time, listens to Jimmy Buffett. His playful side can turn easily dark.
Gender: male
Age: 35 to 35
Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: C3
Voluptuous townie waitress. Closet romantic. Feels that panic of advancing age while stuck in a dead-end job. Has low self-esteem but a rugged exterior.
Gender: female
Age: 29 to 29
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Arch, brittle university professor. Really into academia and esoteric experimental art. Very passionate about her interests and considers herself progressive in her thinking and actions but really can be quite tedious and condescending. Could be cast as a man or a woman.
Gender: any
Age: 50 to 60
Vocal range top: G4
Vocal range bottom: C4
A university professor. Holofernes' protégé. Cipher and sycophant.
Gender: male
Age: 35 to 40
Vocal range top: C4
Vocal range bottom: C3
Thin man in a smart black suit. Trusted advisor of The Princess' father and family.
Gender: male
Age: 42 to 48
Full Song List
Love's Labour's Lost: Introduction
Love's Labour's Lost: Young Men
Love's Labour's Lost: Young Men - Reprise
Love's Labour's Lost: Hey Boys
Love's Labour's Lost: Hey Boys - Reprise
Love's Labour's Lost: I Love Cats
Love's Labour's Lost: Jaquenetta
Love's Labour's Lost: Brabant Song - Part 1
Love's Labour's Lost: Brabant Song - Part 2
Love's Labour's Lost: Brabant Song - Part 3
Love's Labour's Lost: Change of Heart
Love's Labour's Lost: Rich People
Love's Labour's Lost: Academia
Love's Labour's Lost: Love's a Gun
Love's Labour's Lost: The King's Sonnet
Love's Labour's Lost: Dumaine's Poem
Love's Labour's Lost: Longaville's Sonnet
Love's Labour's Lost: Are You a Man?
Love's Labour's Lost: It's Not a Good Idea
Love's Labour's Lost: Labour of Love
Love's Labour's Lost: Stop Your Heart
Love's Labour's Lost: I Don't Need Love
Love's Labour's Lost: The Tuba Song
Love's Labour's Lost: The Owl and the Cuckoo

Show History


Love's Labour's Lost is a musical adaptation of the Shakespeare comedy of the same name. In 2013, composer/lyricist, Michael Friedman, and bookwriter/director, Alex Timbers, (creators of the Broadway musical, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), teamed up again to create Love's Labour's Lost for the Public Theater's Free Shakespeare in the Park program.

Love's Labour's Lost is one of Shakespeare's early comedies. Many modern scholars believe the play was written in 1595 or 1596, making it contemporaneous with Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream. It is believed to have been written for a performance at the Inns of Court before Queen Elizabeth. It was first published in 1598.

Love's Labour's Lost began previews at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park on July 23, 2013. It opened on August 12, 2013, and closed on August 18, 2013. The production was directed by bookwriter, Alex Timbers. The show premiered as part of the Public Theater's Free Shakespeare in the Park Program.

The cast featured: Daniel Breaker (King of Navarre), Kevin Del Aguila (Dull), Colin Donnell (Berowne), Rachel Dratch (Holofernes), Andrew Durand (Boyet), Kimiko Glenn (Maria), Jeff Hiller (Nathaniel), Rebecca Naomi Jones (Jaquenetta), Justin Levine (Moth), Patti Murin (Princess), Lucas Near-Verbrugghe (Dumaine), Bryce Pinkham (Longaville), Charlie Pollock (Costard), Caesar Samayoa (Don Armado), Maria Thayer (Rosaline) and Audrey Lynn Weston (Katherine). The non-Equity ensemble featured Michael R. Douglass and Bradley Gibson.

Cultural Influence

  • Love's Labour's Lost debuted as part of the Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park Festival. This festival has had a significant place in the American theatre since in began in 1954. Many plays from the summer festival have gone on to Broadway. The festival has also attracted many well-known actors, such as Meryl Streep, Morgan Freeman, Martin Sheen and Al Pacino. Approximately 80,000 people attend every year.
  • William Shakespeare, the author of Love's Labour's Lost, upon which the musical is based, is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's preeminent dramatist.
  • Before creative team, Michael Friedman and Alex Timbers, worked on Love's Labour's Lost, they had another show at the Public Theater, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, which transferred to Broadway and was nominated for two Tony Awards.
  • The Love's Labour's Lost cast album was produced and released by Sh-K-Boom Records. It was released digitally on July 3, 2014, and in stores on July 8, 2014.


  • The production of Love's Labour's Lost marked the first new Shakespeare-based musical to be produced at the Delacorte Theater since the Tony-winning musical, Two Gentlemen of Verona, premiered there in 1971, prior to a Broadway run.
  • Love's Labour's Lost is one of only two Shakespeare plays with no obvious source for the plot; the other being The Tempest. The four main characters, however, are loosely based on historical figures.
  • Co-stars, Patti Murin and Colin Donnell, fell for each other while working on Love's Labour's Lost and began dating.

Critical Reaction

"FOUR STARS! A rocking new take on the classic!"
– New York Daily News

"FOUR STARS! Freely but fondly adapted by Alex Timbers, and scored with more than a dozen superb tunes by Michael Friedman, this gleeful riff on Shakespeare is a tall, fruity drink of intoxicating delight. Friedman finds the sweet spot between giddy pop grooves and bruised, ruminating lyrics, creating a dual sensation of silliness and heartache."
– Time Out New York

"A wacky good time that fires on all cylinders!"
– New York Post

"Sheer giddy energy propelled by a winning young cast!"
– USA Today

"Literate and loony – there's a generous expansiveness to this Love's Labour's Lost. A summertime confection as tasty and ephemeral as cotton candy!"
– Entertainment Weekly

"Exhilarating – a delightful night of theater. The creative team behind the critically acclaimed Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson has managed to turn the spirit of the original into something completely contemporary. At a fast-paced hour and a half without intermission, it's like the best 'Saturday Night Live' you ever saw. I was exhilarated!"



Based on the play by William Shakespeare


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A New Musical Based on the Play by William Shakespeare
Songs by
Book Adapted by
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Originally directed by Alex Timbers
New York premiere produced by the Public Theater
Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director               Patrick Willingham, Executive Director
Love's Labour's Lost was developed in collaboration with Les Freres Corbusier
Love's Labour's Lost was developed in part at the Abrons Art Center,
the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat and the Williamstown Theatre Festival
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