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Drama professor channels Taylor Swift in new musical

Senior Lecturer Gregory Kable directs Love’s Labour’s Lost, a musical based on the play by William Shakespeare, March 3-7 at the Center for Dramatic Arts.

Senior Lecturer Gregory Kable directs Love’s Labour’s Lost, a musical based on the play by William Shakespeare, March 3-7 at the Center for Dramatic Arts.

Painfully shy as a child, the UNC dramatic arts professor said he thought theater would be a good vehicle for social interaction.

But then he fell in love with it.

Now a seasoned veteran of the stage, Kable is directing the Kenan Theatre Company’s production of the new musical “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” which is based on one of Shakespeare’s early plays.

Kable said he chose to do the show because “Love’s Labour’s Lost” opened the Kenan Theatre in 1998 when he started teaching at UNC.

“I wanted to mark that as a bookend of all of the productions we’ve done in the interim with a contemporary version of that play,” he said.

But the play’s not only getting a modern treatment in Kable’s show— it also has a pop-rock score, which is near and dear to Kable’s heart.

Kable said the rock musical was the formative style when he was a kid, with “Jesus Christ Superstar” just coming out.

He remembers listening to the album in catechism class in church.

So when he found a pop-rock version of “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” which came out in New York in 2013, he knew it was right up his alley.

When thinking about how to make the show his own, Kable said he began thinking a lot about the universal appeal of Taylor Swift.

He began drawing parallels between her most recent album, “1989,” and Shakespeare’s play.

“We talked about ‘1989’ — that sort of quarter-life crisis that she’s going through in that album. Shakespeare in his day was experiencing that same thing, writing about all of these trials about love, understanding yourself, growing up — what Taylor Swift is doing today.”

“That’s exactly what the play’s about,” he said. “We went whole hog into the Taylor Swift world of today and how that relates back to Shakespeare’s drama through music.”

Audrey Wolff, a first-year communication studies major and assistant director to Kable, said her favorite thing about Kable’s directing style is the way he invites collaboration.

She said when they’re staging, he will often have the actors run through the scene one time, asking them to just do what they think would happen during that scene.

“He’s great about not wanting everything to be a particular way,” she said. “He allows everyone to have some artistic input.”

Actor Kylie Marshall, who also works for The Daily Tar Heel, said Kable gives his actors a lot of freedom.

“And he always has these new crazy ideas,” she said. “We incorporated a lot of elements from Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space’ music video into the show, which is really fun for me because I love Taylor Swift.”

Kable said he never knows which show will be his last, so he usually does a musical.

“I’m always like, ‘Well, if I’m going to do one more piece, I want it to be a musical,’” he said. “And it keeps extending and perpetuating — show after show after show.”

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As for this one, it seems to fit just right.