Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Review: MARY STUART at Pioneer Theatre Company is Thought-Provoking

BWW Review: MARY STUART at Pioneer Theatre Company is Thought-Provoking

MARY STUART at Pioneer Theatre Company is a well-acted and thought-provoking look at two of the most powerful women in history.

MARY STUART, adapted by Jean Stock Goldstone and John Reich from Friedrich Schiller's classic play, tells a balanced tale of the rivalry between Elizabeth I of England and Mary of Scotland near the end of their lives. Each a figurehead for their church and country, the two rulers are believed by their Protestant and Catholic allies to be the true heir to the throne of England. Mary is imprisoned by Elizabeth in an attempt satiate her supporters and quell rebellion, but what will happen when the two finally meet?

The experienced cast is exceptionally strong and well-directed by Shelley Butler.

Anne Bates as Elizabeth and Erika LaVonn as Mary are imposing figures on the stage, each embracing the formidable power of the women they play. However, beneath the surface is deep humanity and even fragility as they struggle to navigate the personal and political struggles they face.

Others leading players include Robert Mammana as Sir Robert Dudley, Jamen Nanthakumar as Sir Edward Mortimer, Bill Kux as the Earl of Shrewsbury, Eric Hoffmann as Sir Amias Paulet, Joe DeBevc as Sir Drue Drury, Colleen Baum as Hannah Kennedy, Fenton Li as Sir William Davison, Allen McCullough as Sir Andrew Melvil/Count L'Aubespine, and Robert Scott Smith as William Cecil.

The scenic design by Sara Ryung Clement is a looming encasement of concrete slabs representing the physical and mental prisons that encompass the characters. The costume design by Brenda Van der Wiel is intriguing in its use of colors and fabrics to create a historical reality with modern resonance. The lighting design by David Neville creates several moments of striking impact.

As usual for straight plays at Pioneer Theatre Company, the dialogue sounds distant and barely perceptible. It is picked up crisply on assistive listening devices and only needs to be amplified more loudly over the speaker system for the show to be more fully enjoyed throughout the house.

MARY STUART plays through January 25, 2020. For tickets, call the box office at 801-581-6961 or visit

Photo Credit: Anne Bates as Elizabeth I.

Related Articles View More Salt Lake City Stories

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes & More

From This Author Tyler Hinton