Westport Country Playhouse will stage Shakespeare's beguiling comic masterpiece, "Twelfth Night, or What You Will," directed by Playhouse artistic director Mark Lamos, playing October 11 through November 5. Laughter and melancholy, gorgeous poetry and song, and endlessly delightful romantic entanglements abound in this fresh and inventive production of a timeless classic. It is the fifth of five productions in the historic theater's 80th year.
"I first encountered this magical play as an actor at the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut," said Lamos. "It was the play's remarkable mix of comedy and pathos, sadness and joy that meant so much to me. Though I'd acted quite a bit of Shakespeare by then, this play seemed unusually rich, strange and satisfying.
"The chance to revisit a play in which music is the food of love--and happiness and melancholy are entwined so perceptively and humorously-- is irresistible," Lamos added.
In a story of illusion, deception, disguise, madness and the extraordinary things one will do for love, a young lady, who is cast ashore after a violent shipwreck, suddenly finds herself thrust into an adventure of cross-dressing, sexual confusion, mistaken identity and the flowering of romance.
Bringing the Shakespeare comedy to life are cast members David Adkins (Broadway's "St. Joan") as Malvolio; Jordan Coughtry ("Romeo and Juliet," "Hamlet," "Othello") as Sir Andrew Aguecheek; Darius de Haas (Broadway's "Kiss of the Spiderwoman," "Carousel," "Rent,") as Feste; Rick Ford ("Henry V," "Cyrano de Bergerac") as Captain/Priest; Donnetta Lavinia Grays (Broadway's "In the Next Room or the vibrator play") as Maria; Lucas Hall (Off-Broadway's "The Merchant of Venice," "Othello," "All's Well That Ends Well") as Orsino; Mahira Kakkar ("Romeo and Juliet," "Coriolanus") as Viola; Justin Kruger ("A Midsummer Night's Dream") as Fabian/Valentine; Rachid Sabitri ("Rafta Rafta," "Twelfth Night," "Romeo and Juliet") as Sebastian; David Schramm (Broadway's "Finian's Rainbow," "Bedroom Farce," "Tartuffe") as Sir Toby Belch; Paul Anthony Stewart (Broadway's "Fiddler on the Roof," "Cyrano") as Antonio; and Susan Kelechi Watson (Broadway's "A Naked Girl on the Appian Way") as Olivia. Also, Nakeisha Daniel and Kimberly Maresca as Olivia's Attendants; and Myron Lee and Chris Ryan as Orsino's Attendants.
Director Mark Lamos Lamos has directed almost 30 productions of Shakespeare plays, including multiple productions of "Twelfth Night," "Romeo and Juliet," "Cymbeline," "The Taming of the Shrew," "As You Like It," "Antony and Cleopatra," "Pericles," "The Tempest," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Hamlet," "The Merchant of Venice," "Measure for Measure," "Much Ado about Nothing," "All's Well That Ends Well" and "Julius Caesar." They have been performed at Lincoln Center Theater, Delacorte Theater in Central Park, Canada's Stratford Festival, Guthrie Theater, Washington's Shakespeare Theatre, California Shakespeare Festival, Yale Repertory Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Arizona Theatre Company, and, most notably, Hartford Stage, where he was artistic director for nearly 17 seasons and for which he accepted the Tony Award in 1989. As an actor he appeared in "Twelfth Night" with Lynn Redgrave at Stratford, Connecticut.
The design and production team includes Andrew Boyce (Yale Repertory Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival), scenic design; Tilly Grimes (New York, Dublin, London theater, Shakespeare on the Sound), costume design; Robert Wierzel (Broadway's "Fela!," Tony Award nomination), lighting design; John Gromada ((Broadway's "Proof," "Dividing the Estate," "Twelve Angry Men"), sound design; B. H. Barry ("Crazy for You," "City of Angels"), fight director; ElizaBeth Smith, voice and text consultant; Lily Fairbanks, props master; Matthew Melchiorre, production stage manager; Amanda Spooner, assistant stage manager; Janet Foster, C.S.A., casting; and Milla Riggio, dramaturg from Trinity College, Hartford.
"Shakespeare In Our Time"
During the run of "Twelfth Night, or What You Will," Westport Country Playhouse is partnering with numerous artists, scholars and local organizations in a celebration of William Shakespeare and the production of his delightful romantic comedy. With panel discussions, talkbacks, a master class, a film screening, art exhibits and more, "Shakespeare In Our Time" invites patrons to explore and discover just how fresh, exciting and accessible the plays of this universal genius are.
"Shakespeare In Our Time" includes a Sunday Symposium with Milla Riggio, renowned Shakespearean scholar, and Mark Lamos, director of "Twelfth Night, or What You Will," on Sunday, October 16, following the 3 p.m. matinee; "From Actor to Director: Personal Reflections on Shakespeare in Connecticut," with Mark Lamos, Tuesday, October 18, 7 p.m.; "Play On: Sharing a Passion for the World's Most Essential Playwright," produced in collaboration with the Shakespeare Society, on Sunday, October 23, after the 3 p.m. matinee; "Master Class: Acting and Directing Shakespeare," with Mark Lamos, on Monday, October 24, 7 to 8:30 p.m.; "The Director's Vision: Interpreting Shakespeare for the Stage," with directors Liz Diamond of Yale Repertory Theatre, Joanna Settle of Shakespeare on the Sound, and Darko Tresnjak of Hartford Stage in conversation with David Kennedy, Playhouse associate artistic director, on Sunday, October 30, following the 3 p.m. matinee; "Talkback with the Actors," on Thursday, November 3, after the 8 p.m. performance; "Together at the Table Family Dinner," on Wednesdays, October 19 and 26, 6:30 p.m.; various programs surrounding the Westport Arts Center's exhibition, "Love: In the Eye of the Beholder," featuring WAC members' work meditating on the subject of love; and "Shakespeare at Housatonic: Student Interpretations of ‘Twelfth Night'," an art display in The Playhouse lobby by students at Housatonic Community College, Bridgeport.