Through August 6
TWELFTH NIGHT Daemen University/MusicalFare Theatre
By Augustine Warner
Shakespeare’s plays can be looked on as part of the music of the English language, creating today’s language.
So, why not real music?
That’s what MusicalFare is doing, with Kwame Kwel-Armah and Shaina Taub’s musical version of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” you know, the “What shall we do in Illyria…” play.
It’s fun and very well done.
This is modern dress on a multi-level stage.
While the play is built around a pair of twins, Viola (Gabriella Jean McKinley) and Sebastian (Augustus Donaldson), pulled from the Mediterranean by separate boats, after a storm, so each believes the other is dead.
The musical cuts down the role of the brother.
Major roles here are also Maria Pedro’s acrobatic Feste who serves as the narrator and Nicholas Lama’s gamboling Sir Toby, uncle of Olivia (Stevie Jackson), who’s using that status to squeeze money from Sir Andrew (Thomas Evans) who lusts after Olivia.
There’s also Malvolio, Olivia’s factotum, here a wonderful, controlled performance from Louis Colaiacovo in songs like “Count Malvolio” parts one and two, dreaming about moving up from aide to husband to Olivia.
Both Sebastian and Viola eventually wind up in Illyria, where Viola is in drag as Caesario to protect herself from the usual shenanigans and has become an aide to Count Orsino (Alex Anthony Garcia).
He’s in love with Olivia and she isn’t interested.
So, Orsino sends Caesario to persuade Olivia to give him a chance and she gets hot for the young aide.
This is all occurring as Olivia’s staff is trying to punish Malvolio by forging letters professing love for him which appear written in Olivia’s hand.
That leads him to bizarre dress, leaving him in the dungeon.
It’s Sebastian’s arrival which triggers resolutions of all the twists of this version of Shakespeare’s story in a typical Bard ending.
The show’s music isn’t anything special.
Making up for that is some really good choreography by Carlos R. A. Jones and strong performances, especially from Colaiacovo and the overall ensemble.
Director Susan Drozd keeps the show moving along on a nice set from Chris Cavanagh, leaving Theresa Quinn to keep the musical aspects dancing across the stage.
Shakespeare and music.
“Twelfth Night” is worth your time.
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