July 4 to September 20 • HOWARD FAMILY STAGE

Vienna: party city. The place you’ll never find a dance floor empty… until now.
When charged with enforcing long-ignored morality laws, the much-loved party boy Duke Vincentio takes his cue to get out of Dodge and lay low while the law cracks down—handing the judicial reins to the decidedly un-groovy Angelo. No (pre-marital) dancing is the decree. One of Shakespeare’s most painfully relevant tales of coercion and hypocrisy reaches darkly absurdist new heights in this footloose adaptation.

Adapted and directed by Jivesh Parasram

Season and production run dates subject to change.

Production run time: TBD

Supported by:
David and Pamela Richardson Foundation

Photo Credit: Karthik Kadam as Lucio
Photo & Image Design: Emily Cooper

The Story


With rocking dance floors and the hottest DJ in the business, Vienna is the place to be, especially with notorious party animal Duke Vincenzio keeping the music going all night long. However, when the Duke receives a decree declaring that Vienna’s long-forgotten morality laws must now be enforced, he realizes it would be hypocritical of him to crack down on the law now. The Duke flees Vienna, but not before charging the notoriously stuffy Angelo with cleaning up the city in his absence. However, what Angelo and the rest of the city do not know is that the Duke is still in Vienna, disguised as a friar.

Now that he is the ruler of Vienna, Angelo makes an example out of a young man named Claudio, who is sentenced to death for dancing in public with his fiancée Julietta. One of Claudio’s friends, Lucio, learns about Claudio’s fate from two dance hall workers named Mistress Overdone and Pompey, whose lives are also at risk because of Vienna’s newly enforced morality laws. Lucio sets out to tell Claudio’s sister, Isabella, the news. Isabella is preparing to join the convent and become a nun, but after hearing that her brother has been sentenced to death, she agrees to try and convince Angelo to change his mind.

At first, it looks like Angelo will refuse to consider Isabella’s appeal, but he eventually tells her that he will think about it. When Isabella returns the next day, Angelo says that he will spare Claudio’s life—but only if Isabella dances with him. Not only does this go against everything that Isabella believes in, but dancing with Angelo would also break the vow she took when she joined the convent. She refuses Angelo’s offer, even if it means her brother must die. Angelo gives Isabella one day to reconsider his proposal.

Isabella visits Claudio in prison and tells him about her conversation with Angelo. Claudio understands why she has refused Angelo’s offer, but he begs her to reconsider, leaving Isabella with an impossible decision to make. The Duke, still disguised as a friar, overhears their conversation and tells Isabella about a woman named Mariana, who was once set to marry Angelo—and who may just be the key to saving Claudio. Will they succeed in their plan to save Claudio’s life, or will Vienna’s dance floors remain empty for good under Angelo’s tyrannical rule?

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