OrangeMite Studios
Miranda Zerbe, as the Princess of France, and Brent Schreiber, as the King of Navarre, rehearse for the OrangeMite production of "Love's Labor's Lost" at The Barn at Tall Fir Acres in Dover Township. (OrangeMite Studios)

Ambition and enthusiasm are plentiful at OrangeMite Studios, the steadily growing arts organization bringing a wealth of live theater and music to the Dover area.

"One of my goals is to go through and actually produce all of Shakespeare's works," says director Billy Wolfgang, who has been leading the organization's artistic odyssey for about six years.

The soon-to-be 25-year-old grew up in the Dover area and works for the school district. He's adding to his undergraduate studies in elementary education with classes toward an arts administration graduate degree. Between all that, though, he works to bring art to the community. This month, he's directing "Love's Labor's Lost."

"This play does a really great job of mixing fantasy with reality," he says. "It plays off the fact that things don't go the way you want them to sometimes but it's what we learn from that that's the message."

Lead actress Miranda Zerbe, who portrays a French princess bedeviling the king of Navarre in the play, has found a lot to love in her ninth production with OrangeMite.

"It's one of my favorite comedies because of the way the women and the men interact," says the 21-year-old Dover resident. The character is "so fun and over the top. She's very dramatic (and) really likes manipulating the men in the story."

Passion: Working with OrangeMite over the last three years or so has been a great experience, Zerbe says.

"I really started to develop a passion for theater and for Shakespeare," she says. "I love that they don't ignore the roots of theater, they embrace it and hold on to it. The barn is fantastic - it's so intimate, it feels like it would have in the Globe" theater of Shakespeare's London.

"The barn" is The Barn at Tall Fir Acres, where OrangeMite's Shakespearean theater program was born.

Owner Mary Snow and her husband moved to the Dover Township property a dozen years ago and renovated the barn as a place for the retired teacher to give music lessons.

OrangeMite Studios
The ladies and attendants of France rehearse "Love's Labor's Lost" for the OrangeMite Studios production at The Barn at Tall Fir Acres in Dover Township. (OrangeMite Studios)

"Now we're doing three plays a year in the barn," Snow says. "The stage is in the center; the theater is really in the round, the people are all around it."

The theater can be found down a winding road in an open field. Inside the barn doors thrown wide to the elements, the facility features exposed woodwork in an intimate space that seats 65.

"Once you get inside, you experience it like the Globe," Snow says. "People like it because they can come and enjoy pure Shakespeare."

The play: "Love's Labor's Lost" is one of Snow's favorites, she says.

"It's full of foolery and trickery and hilarity," she says. "It's a good solid story."

With nearly 30 cast members, the show is also the largest Shakespearean production OrangeMite has produced.

"Our youngest person in the play is 8 years old and the oldest is 76. It really brings a wide array of experiences into the group," Wolfgang says. "It is our largest by far for the barn. ... It has the most roles for women of any of Shakespeare's plays."

The production has jettisoned some of the more "obscure jokes that were funny 400 years ago" and designed for a scholarly audience of the time period, Wolfgang says, but without sacrificing Shakespearean syntax in making the play accessible to the audience.

"Shakespeare isn't as scary anymore for people, and for me, personally, that is a huge accomplishment," Wolfgang says.

Arts education is a large part of OrangeMite's mission.

OrangeMite Studios
Ryan Szwaja, playing the role of Berowne, lectures his fellow lords during a rehearsal of "Love's Labor's Lost" at The Barn at Tall Fir Acres in Dover Township. (OrangeMite Studios)
The studio has branched out into leading an all-ages community orchestra program that meets weekly and is working on after-school programs for elementary students. Since its inception, the theater has produced works in the public domain and original works by area residents. Next year, the group has plans to present "Oliver," its first licensed production.

OrangeMite "seems to be one of those things that's turning into an institution," Snow says. "We're happy to be able to fill this role in the community."

See the show

OrangeMite Studios will present five performances of "Love's Labor's Lost" at The Barn at Tall Fir Acres, 2035 Tall Fir Drive, Dover Township.

Shows start at 7 p.m. May 17, 18 and 24 and at 2 p.m. May 19 and 25.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students.

For more information, call (717) 814-1151 or visit www.orangemite.com.

- Reach Mel Barber at mbarber@yorkdispatch.com.