BWW Review: Pioneer Theatre Company's TWELFTH NIGHT is Striking

BWW Review: Pioneer Theatre Company's TWELFTH NIGHT is Striking

Pioneer Theatre Company's New Orleans-inspired production of TWELFTH NIGHT will be a delight to fans of Shakespeare.

TWELFTH NIGHT is one of William Shakespeare's beloved classics. When their ship wrecks, brother and sister Sebastian and Viola are separated, and Viola disguises herself as a man to serve Duke Orsino (played here by A.K. Murtadha). Confusion ensues through mistaken identities, both intended and not, centered around Viola's admirer Olivia and her household.

Richard E. Waits as Feste is the indisputable anchor of the production. His personality and presence, as much as his acting and singing, ground the proceedings with emotional heft while simultaneously invoking levity with a glint in his eye. Add the fact that he composed his own songs for the show, and this is one very talented individual.

Kelsey Rainwater is a passionate and memorable Olivia, and Malvolio is played with gusto by David Andrew Macdonald.

Grace Morrison as Viola and Zach Fifer as Sebastian look the part of siblings and handle their roles commendably, although it is not completely believable that they could be mistaken for one another.

Kenajuan Bentley as Sir Tony Belch and Conner Marx as Sir Andrew Aguecheek are often hilarious in their patter and stage business without allowing it to become too broad.

The decision to set this production in New Orleans in 1812 helps the story resonate in unique ways and brings with it a striking approach to the design. The scenic and costume design by G.W. Mercier are fantastic, with a wonderful specificity to the setting. The set, inspired by the architecture of the French Quarter, is massive, detailed, and distinctive. It provides the perfect texture for Kirk Bookman's vivid lighting design.

The incidental music is gorgeous, but the decision to have the actors mimic playing instruments often has unintended comical results when the movement doesn't match the sound.

TWELFTH NIGHT plays through April 14, 2018. For tickets, call the box office at 801-581-6961 or visit www.pioneertheatre.org.

Photo Credit: Richard E. Waits (Feste)



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