Seana McKenna as Anne Hathaway
Seana McKenna as Anne Hathaway (Photo by Richard Bain)

LOWELL -- Seana McKenna, a leading actress at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, Canada, has played some of the Bard's most famous female characters in her illustrious career.

In Shakespeare's Will, she takes on a real character in his life -- his wife Anne Hathaway, who raised their three children alone while he pursued fame.

Playwright Vern Thiessen wrote the one-woman play for McKenna, who has performed it twice in Stratford among other locales. Directed by her husband Miles Potter, she brings it to Merrimack Repertory Theatre audiences Jan. 10 through Feb. 3.

The play takes place on the eve of Shakespeare's funeral, as she prepares to read his will, which the Bard's sister, with whom she doesn't get along, has given to her.

"She has many thoughts going on in her head and the mystery of the will is always present," said McKenna. "She talks to herself and can't read it. But basically it's the story of a very famous stay-at-home mom of a very famous husband."

"It's lovely," she added, "to give life to this woman about whom so little is known."

But it is strictly conjecture, added Potter.


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"Very little is known about her, aside from their marriage date, that she and Shakespeare had three children and the will," he said. "There are uncountable words written about him but very few on her. This is turnabout."

Tickets, $20 and up, are available at www.MRT.org or call 978-654-4678.

On the marquee

  • ANNIE, JR.: Applause Academy MA will present Annie Jr. at the Chelmsford Center for the Arts, May 3-5. Enrollment is open now for kids, ages 8-14, and rehearsals begin this week. Visit www.applauseacademyma.com or call 508-828-8942 for details.
  • HEADLESS HORSEMAN: Imaginary Beasts brings The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to audiences in comic pantomime form Jan. 11-Feb. 2 in the Plaza Black Box Theatre at Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St., Boston. $15-$20 at 617-933-8600 or www.bostontheatrescene.com.
  • MASTER CLASS: Boston Children's Theatre Broadway veteran, comedian and musician Seth Rudetsky will hold a one-day master class and audition session for high school actors, age 14 to 20 on Sunday, Jan. 13, 1-4 p.m. at BCT Studio, 316 Huntington Ave. It is in preparation for the remounting of Reflections of a Rock Lobster March 9-17 at Boston Center for the Arts. www.bostonchildrenstheatre.org/rocklobsteraudition for info.

Nancye Tuttle's email is nancyedt@verizon.net.