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The College of St. Scholastica

The College of St. Scholastica’s theatrical production of Jessica Swale’s Nell Gwynn opens Friday, April 21.

Directed by Dr. Tammy Ostrander, professor of Communication and Media Studies, Nell Gwynn tells the story of the show’s namesake who discovers her talent for the stage and becomes one of London’s first female performers in the 1660s.

As she takes the restoration world by storm, Nell catches the eye of King Charles II and soon becomes his favorite mistress. Being the king’s mistress and the world’s most beloved actress is not without risk, however, as this darling of the stage soon discovers. Nell must decide whether she wants a life in the palace or a life on the stage.

The production spans over 15 years with scenes alternating between Nell’s involvement in the theatre company and her life at the palace. The production replicates much of the politics and culture of London in the 1660s. In fact, the cast performs in period costumes and many of the characters are actual historical personages. Members of the King’s Company even sing, dance and strategize on how to attract an audience. Additionally, several historical issues, including prostitution, are openly addressed; a mature content warning is attached to the production as a result.

“Nell Gwynn truly has something for everyone: comedy, drama, political intrigue, music and romance,” commented Ostrander. “We might even have a surprise appearance of a Cavalier King Charles spaniel as homage to King Charles II.”

Ostrander goes on to note that the 2016 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy was a natural fit for St. Scholastica Theatre. “The Globe Theatre commissioned this play and so I was confident that the script would be a good one,” shared Ostrander. “The story of Nell Gwynn also reminds us that women haven’t always enjoyed the options and choices that are available to us now.”

The shows will be held at the St. Scholastica Theatre located on the main campus with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on April 21-22 and 27-29, and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. on April 23 and 30. The April 27 performance will be ASL interpreted.

Tickets are $17 for general admission, $12 for students and seniors, $7 for St. Scholastica students with their ID and free for Sisters of the St. Scholastica Monastery. Tickets can be purchased by contacting the Spotlight Box Office at 218-723-7000.

“I am hopeful that audiences will embrace the opportunity to see this important moment in history that forever changed theatre for the better,” stated Ostrander.

Nell Gwynn poster image of a woman wearing a period gown holding an orange