Santa Cruz Shakespeare Announces World Premiere of the Formula on July 15 at Summer Festival

Written by Kathryn Chetkovich, directed by Ellen Maguire, co-produced with Blissfield, inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and called a wonderful new play” by George Saunders, in the New Yorker.

Santa Cruz, CA (June 6, 2022) – Santa Cruz Shakespeare (SCS), an inspired professional theatre company in Santa Cruz County with deep local roots that go back more than 40 years, today announced it will open its summer season with the exciting World Premiere of The Formula by Kathryn Chetkovich, directed by Ellen Maguire in a co-production with Blissfield, during its summer festival July 10-Aug. 28 in the Audrey Stanley Grove in DeLaveaga Park. Opening night of The Formula will be July 15.

In The Formula, inspired by William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an anxious young researcher experimenting with the neuroscience of attraction struggles to maintain control when the untested formula she’s been working on gets loose at her own wedding — with spectacularly disastrous results. This whip-smart and moving new comedy swaps a lab-manufactured substance for Puck’s “love-in-idleness” flower and asks: Is choosing the right person to marry even possible? 

The ensemble cast includes Allie Pratt (SCS’s Pride and Prejudice) and Dion Graham (The Wire). The Formula, the inaugural project of Blissfield, director Ellen Maguire’s NYC-based production company, is also the first world premiere for Santa Cruz Shakespeare. The production is supported by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

“It is thrilling to me that Santa Cruz Shakespeare gets to co-produce the world premiere of The Formula,” said Mike Ryan, artistic director, Santa Cruz Shakespeare. “It is the perfect project for us in many ways. It is a play that asks smart, funny, relevant questions about our contemporary world while also referencing the classical work for which the festival is known. The fact that it is also by Santa Cruz playwright Kathryn Chetkovich, and that we can also shine a light on the incredible talent of a local artist, is icing on the cake.”

“The play got kicked off for me in part by thinking about A Midsummer Night’s Dream and how what happens in that play is that the wrong people are given the love potion; in the ordered universe of that play, everyone has their designated right mate. The comedy comes from messing with that order, and the happy ending comes from setting it right,” said Kathryn Chetkovich, playwright of The Formula. “We live in a world where nearly half of marriages end in divorce, and yet the myth of ‘the one’ persists—we still want to believe that there is that one perfect mate out there for everyone. We want to believe in true love, whatever we mean by that. With The Formula, I tried to write a play that has sympathy for that wish and that also questions it, gives us a glimpse of the damage it can do.”

“Kathy and I share a love of comedy and a philosophy: Comedy is best played seriously, with high stakes. Our mantra: no sentimental choices,” said Ellen Maguire, director of The Formula. The Formula offers all the pleasures of a classic romantic comedy by Shakespeare (or even Billy Wilder), while stealthily subverting the genre. The play is all kinds of funny: it’s full of wit, wordplay, physical humor, and situational humor. There’s also music and, at the play’s climax, dance. But—and this is vitally important to me—the comedy is rooted in the humanity of the characters, in their wants and needs. The Formula is also a true ensemble piece; each character has a revelation about love and each character changes in a profound way.”

The Formula entertains you, makes you laugh hard from beginning to end, while raising questions about the nature of love—questions that might surface a beat after you stop laughing. Or later. Few scripts this smart are this entertaining,” Maguire continued.

Creative Team

Director: Ellen Maguire

Scenic Designer: Dipu Gupta

Costume Designer: Nikki Delhomme

Lighting Designer: Kent Dorsey

Sound Designer / Composer: Rody Ortega

Wigs Designer: Jessica Carter

Stage Manager: Katie Ringwood

Voice Coach: David Morden

Intimacy Choreographer: Noah Luce

Assistant Stage Manager: Grace Griffin

Assistant Costume Designer: Allison Miranda

Stage Management Intern: Olive Fox

Directing Intern: Sequoia Schirmir


Suzy: Allie Pratt

Woman: Paige Lindsey White

Dean: M.L. Roberts

Man: R. Ward Duffy

Patrick: Christopher Silvestri

Francis: R. Ward Duffy

Gina: Paige Lindsey White

Jack: Dion Graham

Miranda: Maggie Bofill


Suzy: a scientist, engaged to Patrick, 25

Dean: a scientist, Patrick’s brother, 30

Woman: research subject (doubles with Gina)

Man: research subject (doubles with Francis)

Patrick: an elite athlete, Dean’s brother, engaged to Suzy, 25

Francis: Dean & Patrick’s father, recently widowed, 60ish

Gina: Jack’s girlfriend, mid-40s

Jack: Suzy’s father, Miranda’s ex, mid-50s

Miranda: Suzy’s mother, Jack’s ex, mid-50s

Prior developmental and staged readings of The Formula in New York City have included actors such as William Jackson Harper (The Good Place), Paul Gross (Slings and Arrows), Laila Robins (The Apple Family plays at The Public Theater; The Walking Dead) Elizabeth A. Davis (Tony nominee for Once), Victor Slezak (The Americans), Carol Halstead (a SCS regular), Megan Tusing (Ensemble Studio Theater), Cindy Cheung (Mistress America, by Noah Baumbach).

About Kathryn Chetkovich

Kathryn Chetkovich’s short-story collection, Friendly Fire, won the John Simmons Short Fiction Award; her writing has been published in the magazine Granta and in Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays. She has written two previously produced full-length plays: Acts of Love, published by Dramatists Play Service and produced Off-Broadway, and She Said, She Said. Her short plays Love and Death and The Transaction were produced as part of the SC Actors’ Theatre’s 8 Tens festival.

About Ellen Maguire

Ellen Maguire is a director, screenwriter and journalist. She’s the founder of Blissfield, which develops and produces comedies for theater and film; The Formula, by Kathryn Chetkovich, is Blissfield’s inaugural project. Ellen received an MFA (Directing) from the Columbia University School of the Arts, where she also taught screenwriting. Her short films have been selected for festivals around the world, including the opening night of The Angelika Presents New York Stories. As an actor, she’s appeared in film and television and in leading roles at theaters on and off Broadway and across Canada, including the Shaw Festival, the Citadel Theater, the Royal Alexandra Theater and the Manitoba Theater Center. Her journalism has appeared in the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Additional Santa Cruz Shakespeare Summer Festival Productions

In addition to the World Premiere of The Formula, Santa Cruz Shakespeare will also bring audiences full-scale company productions of Twelfth Night and The Tempest by William Shakespeare, along with its Fringe Show and Staged Reading Series.

Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare, directed by Paul Mullins

Twelfth Night introduces us to Viola who is shipwrecked physically, and then introduces her to a cast of characters who are shipwrecked emotionally. Stuck in old ideas of love and grief that have grown so stale as to become something else entirely, the region of Illyria is shocked from Winter into Springtime by the passions of young Viola who disguises herself as a man in order to survive. Twelfth Night features festival veterans Patty Gallagher, Lorenzo Roberts, Paige Lindsey White, and Charles Pasternak, along with an all-star cast of fresh new faces. This production will be directed by Paul Mullins, one of SCS’s associate artists and the director of The Agitators, Pride and Prejudice, Love’s Labours Lost, The 39 Steps, and Hamlet.

The Tempest, by William Shakespeare, directed by Miriam Laube

The Tempest also begins with a shipwreck, though this is one created by design… more specifically, by the magic of Prospero’s tempest. Determined to destroy those who banished her to the island, Prospero weaves spells of illusion and enchantment with the aid of the spirit Ariel to exact her revenge. As love blossoms before her eyes, Prospero must choose between vengeance and hope. Part tale of revenge and part comedy, The Tempest is full of music, spectacle, and the magic of art. Directed by Miriam Laube, a veteran of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Tempest features Laura Gordon as the magician Prospero.

The Fringe Show

An adaptation of the play by Pierre de Marivaux, Enslaver’s Isle will be performed by this season’s interns in August. Biting social commentary and comedy abound in this adaptation that catapults 18th century questions of status and privilege into our contemporary moment.

Staged Reading Series

The Fringe Staged Reading Series is free to the public and offers theatregoers the opportunity to hear both new work and adaptations of classics. This year’s series includes Nasty, Brutish, and Short by Ian McRae on Aug. 2 and Simply the Thing She Is by Kate Hawley on Aug. 9.


Tickets for the 2022 Summer Season can be purchased at Membership packages are also available and include several benefits including ticket discounts, early admission, free parking, and more. For details on membership, visit:


Featuring professional actors from around the country and inspired by deep local roots that go back more than 40 years, Santa Cruz Shakespeare stages bold productions of the plays of Shakespeare and other great playwrights that stimulate audiences’ senses and spark their imagination. For more information about SCS, visit, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.