One of Shakespeare’s most beloved and most performed comedies dating more than 400 years finally reaches the Moran Fine Arts Building on the St. Thomas campus.

Inspired by the recent success staging Much Ado About Nothing director Dan Green was searching for a fitting encore and enthusiastically opted for the free-spirited Twelfth Night for the 2016 Fall Production, running October 14-16 in Cemo Auditorium.

The classical farcical tale of romance, mistaken identity and role reversal hinges on a complicated love triangle wherein Orsino (Ryan Deitz ‘17) loves Olivia (Allie Gomez from Incarnate Word Academy), who loves Cesario, who is actually Viola (IWA’s Lauren Turner), who loves Orsino.

Dizzy yet?

“There’s a timeless charm about the story,” Green said.  “I’m really impressed with the senior leadership up and down the roll call.  Deitz is always a workhorse.  (Senior) Alec Jordan is immensely effective in playing a curmudgeon (Malvolio).  But I’m most pleased with the actors curiosity in solving the puzzles to the language.  I really appreciate when a talented sophomore like Daniel Tran can masterfully deliver a sonnet, or (IWA’s) Susannah Wilson (daughter of choral directory Josh Wilson) serving as an understudy and making these incredible performances come alive.”

Adding to the jovial mix are Michael Patton ‘18 as Viola’s lookalike brother Sebastian, Andrew Neaves ‘17 as Olivia’s blustering uncle in debauchery Sir Toby Belch, and Parker Robertson ‘18 as the not-so-foolish fool Feste, a jester who seems to embody the spirit and folly of the madcap festivities.

“Parker has some of the rich monologues in the play,” Green said.  “He’s very good in that role, being able to decipher the humor and finding how to appropriately deliver what his character is all about.”

Green committed to making the Shakespearean dialogue “as accessible as we can” with an updated musical score “to present taste.”  

Otherwise, the costumes and settings are possible for in and around 1600, including a globe-like theatre reminiscent of the Bard’s Elizabethan playhouse, crafted by faculty members Phil Gensheimer and Stephen Fuchs, chief engineer Duane Fuchser, with sizable contributions from within the St. Thomas community, notably Adam Maloney ‘17 who designed an elaborate bench and table.

“There’s a great excitement for how this play is going to look,” Green said.  “It’s a phenomenal set.  Our actors and audience will get an authentic feel for how it would have been done on that stage centuries ago.”

The enduring full-titled Twelfth Night, or What You Will has commanded the immense talents from a wide array of acclaimed performers ranging from Diana Rigg and Judi Dench to Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway … Ian Holm and Ian McKellen to Stephen Fry and Eddie Redmayne … even a 2006 film adaptation She’s the Man starring Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum.

Green owns great anticipation for how his actors will now embrace the challenge of bringing some of  Shakespeare’s most identifiable, and zany, characters to life.

“Traditionally our actors initially greet Shakespeare with ‘I hate it, I hate it,’” Green said.  “Then, ‘it’s not the worst.’  Then, ‘I like it … I like it alot … this is great.’  Before you know it, they start loving the material.  The language is deep and that requires significant effort in order to interpret.  All of which makes the final result all the more pleasurable.  We’re ready to get this going.”

Twelfth Night, upcoming Friday, October 14 at 7:00 p.m., continuing Saturday, October 15 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. and concluding Sunday, October 16 at 2:00 p.m.  CLICK HERE to purchase tickets.