Constellation Theatre to mount new musical ‘Desperate Measures’

The show shakes up Shakespeare’s 'Measure for Measure' and sets it in the Wild West.

Constellation Theatre Company is continuing its 17th season with Desperate Measures, a new musical inspired by Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. This Drama Desk Award-winning musical comedy with book and lyrics by Peter Kellogg and music by David Friedman is set in the Wild West, where a sheltered nun must team up with a shrewd sheriff and a saucy saloon dancer to save her bad boy brother from certain death.

Helmed by Constellation’s Founding Artistic Director Allison Arkell Stockman, Desperate Measures takes Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, shakes it up and sets it in the Wild West. While trying to protect the lady he loves, Johnny Blood kills a man in a bar brawl. Sentenced to death, Johnny must put his fate into the hands of a colorful cast of characters including a mysterious sheriff, an eccentric priest, an authoritarian governor, a saloon girl gone good, and a nun out of the habit—his sister, Susanna, who doesn’t know where to turn when the tyrannical Governor gives her an impossible choice.

Stockman was intrigued by the western setting and feminist twist in this piece, saying, “I’m very drawn to the mythic quality of the Wild West – a fantastical setting evoking freedom, risk-taking, big dreams and expansive horizons. I also love how, by empowering this story’s female characters with greater agency, the creators of Desperate Measures have flipped Measure for Measure on its head from a problem play to a delightful blast.”

The cast features Constellation Theatre veterans Rebecca Ballinger as Susanna, Greg Watkins as the Governor, Bobby Libby as Father Morse, and Nina-Sophia Pacheco as Bella Rose alongside Constellation newcomers Hunter Ringsmith as Johnny Blood and Tyler Dobies as Sheriff Martin Green.

Desperate Measures, presented by Constellation Theatre Company, plays February 15-March 17, 2024 at Source Theatre, 1835 14th St NW, Washington, DC. Previews February 15-18 (Pay What You Will February 15), opening night February 19 at 7:30 PM. ASL interpreted performances March 2 and 7. Masks required at Saturday matinees. Tickets range from $20-$55 and can be purchased online.


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