How do I love thee?

History knows Shakespeare's love sonnets, but the source of inspiration remains a mystery. One original play will uncover Shakespeare's true love.

Milestone Theatre Company in association with Arroyo Repertory Theatre will present the original "Master Mistress Muse" about the love-hate battle between a young lord and mysterious Dark Lady in their attempts to win over the audience and determine Shakespeare's true love. The show will run from Friday through Dec. 19.

A selection of 154 Shakespeare sonnets are peppered throughout the play to tell the story through text, sung by a modern Greek chorus, and interpreted through movement, said Mike Alva, executive director of Milestone Theatre Company and Pasadena resident.

This is not a strict, classic take on the Shakespeare's sonnets, but a collection and exploration of the Bard's inspiration, he said.

"Never has anyone seen Shakespeare like this before," Alva said. "Instead of producing the same Shakespeare plays we've seen over and over again or take plays like 'Romeo & Juliet' or 'Hamlet' and dress them up in modern times and situations, we decided to take what we knew of his work and create something brand new of it."

Written by T. Knoedler as the playwright's first play and the directorial debut by Patrick Connolly, it's the first classic performance for the Milestone Theatre and the second show of its inaugural season.

Poems expose the hidden story of Shakespeare's work in a contemporary, interpretive way as the chorus drives the poets' phrases.

La Cañada Flintridge resident Lindsay Styler plays the dancing Muse, a unique role in which the actor moves across the stage, often without speech.

"She's not human, she's more of a Grecian goddess-type of character," Styler said. "She's more of an essence and spirit that's always present and always influencing people and their works of art throughout the play. She doesn't speak so much, but she's present, and she dances."

Styler trained in Glendale at both Doreen's Dance School and A Noise Within.

"At Doreen's Dance School, I learned how to do tap, ballet, pointe, jazz, a little bit of hip-hop, and a little bit of lyrical," Styler said. "I danced there for about 13 years before I left the studio."

Her acting training began at A Noise Within, where she participated in the intern program and with resident artists learning technical theater including: "Speaking Shakespeare," "Acting Shakespeare," "Suzuki," etc.

"At A Noise Within, I learned how to act," Styler said. "They focus mostly on the classics at that theater, so I did a lot of Shakespeare, Ibsen, Inge, Williams, etc."

For the Milestone's production, the audience members become characters in the play, while sonnets transform poems to dialogue, dance and song, Alva said.

"When Milestone decided to take on a brand-new work as its follow-up to its last production, we decided to go all out and make the entire experience fresh for everyone involved," Alva said.

The performing arts group unanimously chose to go back to the classics for its next project in order to further educate themselves in classical theater, Alva said.

The young company was named "Best Theater Production in Pasadena" by Pasadena Weekly after its success with "The Laramie Project," based on the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student.

"The Laramie Project" was the first play produced by the Milestone Theatre Company. Pasadena City College theater arts students Alva and Lamont Webb formed the organization in 2007 as a creative outlet for young artists who struggled to remain active during the recession.



What: Milestone Theatre's production of "Master Mistress Muse"

When: 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; and 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 18 and 19

Where: Linda M. Grinstead Theatre at La Salle High School, 3880 E. Sierra Madre Blvd., Pasadena

Cost: General admission is $12 and Pasadena students with valid school identification are $6 at the door.

Contact: Tickets are available at the door or online at

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