Laughter and love are major themes of Northeastern’s next stu­dent the­atre pro­duc­tion, The Phantom Lady, a 17th-​​century Spanish cloak-​​and-​​dagger play about a young widow’s use of decep­tion to com­mu­ni­cate with a man who falls in love with her.

The play opens Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 8 p.m. at the Curry Stu­dent Center The­atre and runs through Sunday, Nov. 17. It is directed by Jonathan Carr, an assis­tant aca­d­emic spe­cialist in the Depart­ment of The­atre.

The play is one that I’ve wanted to do for about a decade now,” Carr explained. “I read it on a beach and just fell in love with it. It’s charming, and it has romance, intrigue, and sword fighting. It checks off a lot of the themes that audi­ences really love.”

The Phantom Lady was written in 1629 by Spanish play­wright Pedro Calderón de la Barca, whom Carr labeled as a con­tem­po­rary of William Shake­speare. “Calderón’s plays have a ten­dency to feel almost familiar, like they are in the same world Shake­speare inhab­ited,” he said. “You are in this world of rich lan­guage and com­plex char­ac­ters, but Calderón’s plays take dif­ferent turns that sur­prise us.”


The play fol­lows Dona Angela, a young widow whose two brothers forbid her from any male com­pan­ion­ship. In order to com­mu­ni­cate with Don Manuel, a vis­itor at her family’s castle, Dona Angela employs decep­tive tac­tics to make her­self seem invisible.

It’s really sur­prising and it trans­lates well to a modern audi­ence because it intro­duces the strong female char­acter as we under­stand it today,” said Amy Henion, a fifth-​​year com­mu­ni­ca­tion studies major and the­atre minor who will play the part of Dona Angela.

In addi­tion to mem­o­rizing lines, some cast mem­bers have been hard at work learning intri­cately chore­o­graphed sword fighting scenes. Zahan Mehta, a fourth-​​year stu­dent playing one of Dona Angela’s brothers, is in two such scenes and said it’s been exciting to learn how to make them appear dan­gerous to the audience.

We started by learning how to hold swords and basic posi­tions,” Mehta said. “The actual chore­og­raphy was very daunting at first because the swords aren’t nec­es­sarily sharp but they can still do damage. It was scary to think it would be going so much faster the day of the show.”

Paula Ries, the production’s cos­tume designer and a North­eastern alumna who earned degrees in the­atre and dance in 2005, noted the chal­lenge of bringing the play’s time period to life. She pored over images of paint­ings from Europe’s Renais­sance era to select the appro­priate cos­tumes for the char­ac­ters, which span social classes and hierarchies.

The Phantom Lady is the second stu­dent pro­duc­tion of the aca­d­emic year. The 28 mem­bers of the cast and crew started rehearsing in the Curry Stu­dent Center The­atre for the first time about two weeks ago, since they couldn’t use the space until the pro­duc­tion of the Elephant’s Grave­yard com­pleted its run.

To accli­mate the cast to per­forming on the set, stage man­ager Vic­toria Oggioni, a third-​​year the­atre stu­dent, taped the out­line of set pieces to the stage. “It’s exciting to walk into the the­atre and dis­cover new set pieces that weren’t there the day before,” Oggioni said. “We’ve done a lot of work on an empty stage, but I think we have made really good time and everyone is so ded­i­cated to the show that it has just worked out.”

For show times and tickets, visit the North­eastern ticket center web­site.