It’s never about the Who, What, When, or Where.
When it comes to performing Shakespeare, the ‘Who’ can be someone famous. You can bring in a star to perform a classic, but that certainly doesn’t guarantee a quality production. The ‘What’ will never be refreshing by itself. In this day and age, even the most obscure of the Bard’s plays have been performed thousands of times across the world. The ‘When’ and ‘Where’ can act as window dressing. You can perform day or night, outdoors or in an abandoned warehouse, or even in an actual theatre. That still won’t make your show memorable. It’s never about the Who, What, When, or Where.
It’s about the How.
How do you keep well known shows fresh? How do you put your own stamp on characters and shows that have been performed over and over again throughout the years? How do you reach out to today’s audience and bring them into a world of classical theatre without holding their hand through the whole thing? How do you make a show for them?
For Director Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek and Nebraska Shakespeare’s production of Twelfth Night, the answer to the ‘How’ was summed up in two words:
Characters were clad in bright neon dresses, fedoras, track suits, and kilts with hair to match. Highlights (no pun intended) were Olivia (Sarah Carlson-Brown) as Illyria’s version of Lady Gaga while Duke Orsino (Beethoven Oden) brought a style and swagger reminiscent of Outkast’s Andre 3000.
Contemporary music was spliced throughout the show with lyrics adjusted to reflect the character’s thoughts, feelings, and predicaments. Veronica Benton and Oden set the tone for the whole show, belting out Journey’s “When the Light’s Go Down in Illyria”.
Other outstanding moments include the always hilarious Dan Chevalier as Sir Andrew and Nick Albrecht as Sir Toby dancing out the Beastie Boys’ “Brass Monkey”. John Hardy’s Malvolio had the audience in stitches during his cross-gartered rendition of LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It”. Best of all might have been Maria (Moira Mangiameli) and her band of clowns finishing off Act One with the spot-on dance of Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’. An impromptu dance party broke out when kids all over the park stood up and danced right along with the actors.
Memorable performances too numerous to mention, great pacing, and fantastic comedic timing made for one enjoyable evening. Even my guests (some of whom hadn’t been to Shakes on the Green in over 10 years) left thoroughly entertained and reinvigorated to the works of The Bard. As we were leaving, everyone was making plans to come back for Titus Andronicus this weekend and maybe even the week after for another round Twelfth Night tomfoolery.
Cold Cream looks at theater in the metro area. Email information to firstname.lastname@example.org