Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: TWELFTH NIGHT at SF Playhouse

a musical adaptation of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

Review: TWELFTH NIGHT at SF Playhouse

Twelfth Night

A Musical Adaptation of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

Conceived by Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub

Music and Lyrics by Shaina Taub

Directed by Susi Damilano

SF Playhouse

This Bay Area premiere of Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub's musical adaptation of Twelfth Night is both the first Shakespeare play in nineteen seasons at SF Playhouse and director Susi Damilano's first attempt at the bard. Given those possibly daunting circumstances, this production is an exhilarating triumph and Damilano's best work since her brilliant Cabaret in 2019.

There have been other musical adaptations based on Shakespeare's works: West Side Story (Romeo and Juliet), Kiss Me Kate (The Taming of the Shrew), and The Boys from Syracuse (The Comedy of Errors) to name a few. In fact, 2005's All Shook Up used Twelfth Night as a jukebox vehicle for the music of Elvis Presley. Writer/performer Shaina Taub's score aligns closely to the original story, using pop, funk, and ballads to punctuate the original text. The score is wondrous, with hummable tunes and cute recurring themes ("Word on the Street," "Viola's Soliloquy," and "Tell Her").

Review: TWELFTH NIGHT at SF Playhouse
l to r: Loreigna Sinclair (Olivia), Sophia Intona (Viola) and Sean Fenton (Orsino)

Damilano supplies a casting coup here with her choice of Sophia Introna as Viola/Cesario who skillfully walks the gender blending line. Twelfth Night includes plenty of misguided love endeavors, ripe material for comedy and Damilano mines this for all its worth with some brilliant supporting performances by Caleb Haven Draper as the foppish Andrew, Atticus Shaindlin as the closeted Malvolio, Loreigna Sinclair as the sexy Olivia, Sam Paley as Feste the Fool and Michael Gene Sullivan as the inebriated Toby.

Review: TWELFTH NIGHT at SF Playhouse
Sam Paley (Feste) and company

Shaindlin practically steals the show with his show-stopping number "Count Malvolio", where he dreams of his eventual rise to greatness based on the Shakespeare text "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em." "You're The Worst" is a raucous comic gem of character deprecation while "Is This Not Love" is a tender ballad.

Review: TWELFTH NIGHT at SF Playhouse
Atticus Shaindlin as Malvolio

It would take a complicated flowchart to describe Twelfth Night's crisscrossing romantic angles and mistaken identities, but all works out in the end. Damilano works magic with the cast and ensemble, the singing is top notch and her production crew of Nicole Helfer (Choreography), Music Direction (Dave Dobrusky) and Abra Berman (Costumes) elevate this production to a must-see.

Twelfth Night runs through January 15th, 2022. Tickets can be purchased at 415-677-9596 or online at sfplayhouse.org

Photo Credit: Jessica Palopoli


BroadwayWorld Logo Vote Now for the 2022 BroadwayWorld San Francisco Awards
Vote Nowvoting ends in



DADDY LONG LEGS Announced At Cinnabar Theater This January Photo
​​​​​​​Petaluma's premier theater company, Cinnabar Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Nathan Cummings and Executive Director Diane Dragone, is proud to continue their 50th anniversary season with the musical romance “Daddy Long Legs”, performing live January 6-22nd at Cinnabar Theater, and streaming online January 27-29th. 

FANNIE: THE MUSIC AND LIFE OF FANNIE LOU HAMER is Coming to TheatreWorks Silicon Valley St Photo
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley will present Fannie: The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer, starring award-winning actor Greta Oglesby in the title role. Oglesby reunites with TheatreWorks Artistic Director Tim Bond, who will direct this stirring musical play about the famed civil rights activist.

Word for Words Off the Page Staged Reading Series Concludes With RAYMONDS RUN and BLUES AI Photo
Word for Word's Off the Page Staged Reading Series 2022 concludes on January 23, 2023 (postponed from 2022) with two stories by Toni Cade Bambara Raymond's Run and Blues Ain't No Mockin Bird, directed by Edris Cooper- Anifowoshe.

ISing Silicon Valley Names Rhett Del Campo As Its First Executive Director Photo
Known for its transformational choral education and performance programs for 1st-12th grade girls, iSing Silicon Valley is kicking off its 10th anniversary season and advancing its strategic trajectory by welcoming its first Executive Director, Rhett M. Del Campo.


From This Author - Steve Murray

Steve Murray is a writer for Cabaret Scenes magazine, contributor to ForAllEvents and now BroadwayWorld. He started writing rock reviews for his college newspaper in the 1970’s, produced a va... (read more about this author)


Review: WUTHERING HEIGHTS at Berkeley Repertory TheatreReview: WUTHERING HEIGHTS at Berkeley Repertory Theatre
November 23, 2022

What did our critic think of WUTHERING HEIGHTS at Berkeley Repertory Theatre?

Review: FROZEN at Orpheum TheatreReview: FROZEN at Orpheum Theatre
November 21, 2022

What did our critic think of FROZEN at Orpheum Theatre? Disney Theatrical Productions (also known as Disney On Broadway or Disney Theatrical Group) owns the market on transforming hit animated films into mega successes. The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Alladin and The Little Mermaid have grossed over 10 billion dollars worldwide. Frozen, based on the 3rd highest grossing animated film ever, hit the stage in 2018 and is yet another cash cow. The touring production, created by a host of Oscar and Tony award winning talent is a visual delight, often breathtaking in its beauty.

Review: NATASHA, PIERRE & THE GREAT COMET OF 1812 at Shotgun PlayersReview: NATASHA, PIERRE & THE GREAT COMET OF 1812 at Shotgun Players
November 20, 2022

What did our critic think of NATASHA, PIERRE & THE GREAT COMET OF 1812 at Shotgun Players?

Review: The Stage Adaptation of the Classic Game CLUE Takes the Stage at Center RepReview: The Stage Adaptation of the Classic Game CLUE Takes the Stage at Center Rep
November 2, 2022

What did our critic think of CLUE at Center Rep? With lightning flashes and an ominous score, a mysterious dinner party at Boddy Manor begins with the arrival of an assortment of guests very familiar to anyone who ever played the Parker Brothers board game Clue. Based on the popular game and the 1985 cult film, this delightful production helmed by director Nancy Carlin and her talented cast and crew is a visual treat chock full of word puns, slapstick shtick and broad comic caricatures.

Review: BAY AREA CABARET PRESENTS MEOW MEOW at Venetian RoomReview: BAY AREA CABARET PRESENTS MEOW MEOW at Venetian Room
October 31, 2022

What did our critic think of BAY AREA CABARET PRESENTS MEOW MEOW at Venetian Room?