Friday, 21 June 2024

Mendocino College presents musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’

Gwendolen van Wyk (Viola/Cesario) and Dakota Laiwa McKay (Orsino) in the Mendocino College production of Twelfth Night, the musical. Photo by Scott Spears.

UKIAH, Calif. — The Mendocino College Theatre Arts Department will present the musical adaptation of “Twelfth Night” this month in Mendocino College’s Center Theatre on the Ukiah Campus.

Originally produced by the Public Theatre in New York City in 2016, this joyous jazz-funk musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s beloved comedy “Twelfth Night” is set in a modern world inspired by the music and culture of New Orleans.

This musical comedy about love and mistaken identities will run for two weekends only March 7 to 17 in the Mendocino College Center Theatre.

Conceived by Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub, with music and lyrics by Shaina Taub, the play features a large multi-generational cast of performers. The show features an onstage New Orleans-style jazz-funk band.

“It will be an extraordinary spectacle that will make your heart sing,” said Director Reid Edelman.

The production is appropriate for all audiences ages 11 and older.

With musical direction by Janice Hawthorne Timm, original choreography by Eryn-Schon-Brunner, and vocal direction by Marilyn Simpson, the production will feature costumes and scenery created by students in Mendocino College’s CTE program in technical theater under the direction of faculty & staff members Steve Decker, Kathy Dingman-Katz, and David Wolf.

The associate music director is Charlie Seltzer and alumna Shianne Robertson is the costume design assistant. Sarah Jansen is the production Stage Manager. The assistant stage manager is Phaedra Swearengin.

The talented cast features 23 actors and singers and eight onstage musicians, including many students and alumni of the Theatre Arts Department’s Conservatory Cohort ensemble. Conservatory alums Rickie Emilie Farah and Dakota Laiwa McKay play Countess Olivia and Duke Orsino, the two royal patrons of the realm of Illyria where the action unfolds.

The plot thickens when Viola (played by college theatre alumna Gwendolen van Wyk) and her twin brother Sebastian (played by local musician Julian Sterling) are separated in a shipwreck.

Viola comes to Ilyria and decides to disguise herself as a male in order to obtain a job in Orsino’s court. When Orsino sends Viola, now disguised as Cesario, to woo Olivia on his behalf, Olivia falls in love with Cesraio. Meanwhile, Viola has fallen in love with Orsino, creating a romantic love triangle which drives the plot.

When Sebastian too washes up on the shores of Illyria, looking identical to Cesario, a hilarious comedy of mistaken identities ensues.

The show also features theater alum Charm Kilbane as the pirate Antonio who rescues Sebastian and falls in love with him. Feste the clown (played by theater major Heidi Peterman) holds the antics together with her humorous jests and musical wit.

The subplot involves a prank executed by Olivia’s uncle Sir Toby Belch (played by theater major Eduardo Lalo Torres) and housemaid Maria (played by theater major Jasmine Norris) in which Olivia’s pompous butler Malvolio (played by Carlo Amora-Mora) becomes hilariously unhinged.

Supporting roles also include Schuyler Marcier as Belch’s friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Percival Knutson as the groundskeeper Fabian, and a wide array of professional local musicians, actors and several delightfully talented children.

The cast also includes Les Clow, Hannah Hinrichs, Shianne Robertson, Gina Henebury, Laura Henebury, Esteban Orozco, Tommy Thurston, K.L. Whiterock, Apollo Anderson, Cora Brunner, Margot Dowdney, Prema Sophia Peralta and Owen Sapien.

The stage band features music directors Janice Timm and Charlie Seltzer as well as Joe Swearengin (percussion), Michael Charnes (guitar), Jean-François Buy (Bass), Vicente Dominguez (Trombone), Kobi Hasunuma (trumpet) and Alejandro Dominguez (Saxophone).

Twelfth Night will have a “pay what you wish preview” on Thursday, March 7. Opening night is Friday March 8. Opening night will include a free gala reception starting one hour before the show.

The performance on Saturday, March 9 benefits the Mendocino College Foundation and student scholarships. A free glass of wine is included with the ticket price for this performance.

Following the opening weekend, additional performances are Thursday, March 14, Friday, March 15, and Saturday, March 16, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 17 at 2 p.m.

Tickets cost $20 general, $15 students and seniors, and are available at the Mendocino Book Company, online at www.ArtsMendocino.org and at the door as available.

The performance on Thursday, March 14, is a special discount night, with all tickets costing only $10. Audiences are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance.

For information, call 707-468-3172 or visit http://www.mendocino.edu/the-arts/theatre.

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