BWW Reviews: TWELFTH NIGHT At Folger Theatre

TWELFTH-NIGHT-20010101

There's music, dance, comedy, tragedy, great performances but it just seems to take forever.

I am embarrassed to say I have never been to the Folger Theatre in the 41 years I've lived in the area. So it was with great anticipation that I finally made my way to Capitol Hill near the U. S. Capital, the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court. What a neighborhood.

The gorgeous theater and library were built in 1932. The theater is quite impressive, intimate (about 270 seats) and entirely made of wood. One feels like they could be sitting at the Globe in London.

Acclaimed Director Robert Richmond has assembled a talented cast who play the roles of lovers, lunatics, poets, drunkards, and clowns. Richmond decided to move the time of the play to the early 1900's (think Downton Abbey) and the wonderful music that is performed by the actors stems from the era as well. You may notice some classical pieces by Claude Debussy and Erik Satie. There are original compositions by Matthew Nielson.

The story involves Viola (Emily Trask) and her twin brother Sebastian (William Vaughan), both red-heads, who are separated in a ship-wreck believe both have drowned. They arrive in Illyria (which really existed now near Croatia), a strange land and encounter challenging adventures...all relating to love.

According to Richmond, "TWELFTH NIGHT is a story about love, in its many forms: unconditional love, unrequited love, self-love, compassionate love, pragmatic love, maniacal love, and true love...We wanted to create a world in which the moral, ethical and social status of the play comes to life."

While it is true that "things are not always what they seem", there is the typical battle of class distinction and mistaken identities. With Viola wearing her "cropped" hair, she does in fact appear like a man (this must have been fun in Shakespeare's day since no woman appeared in his plays so you had a man playing a woman playing a man).

There's much music including a cello, ukulele, clarinet, accordion, and even a barbershop quartet. Kudos to Joshua Morgan and Joel DeCandio (Music Arrangement), Morgan is also Music Director and actually plays the huge large piano on stage (also used as holding cell when closed), lovely Choreography by Eleni Grove, clever Scenic Design by Tony Cisek, inventive Costume Designer ( Mariah Hale) and superb lighting by Andrew F. Griffin.

The show is truly an ensemble piece. Standouts are Richard Willis as Malvolio and Louis Butelli is a delicious Feste who has a superb solo.

I seemed to enjoy the festivities, the music, the dance, the comedy shtick more than the play itself which seemed to last too long.

One thing for sure. I look forward to returning in the future to the Folger Theatre.

A "Pre-Show Talk and Book Party" will take place on Saturday, June 8 at noon with acclaimed author and Tony Award nominee Ken Ludwig. This free event will include an interactive discussion on TWELFTH NIGHT and book-signing of his new book "How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare."

TWELFTH NIGHT continues through June 9, 2013.

For tickets, call 202-544-7077.

cgshubow@broadwayworld.com

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From This Author Charles Shubow

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