StageWorks brings 'Twelfth Night' into the 21st century
by Marie Nesmith
Oct 03, 2011 | 1637 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Setting William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" in a nightclub, StageWorks Inc. will put a new twist on the play of mistaken identities Oct. 15. Traditionally performed against the backdrop of the royal kingdom of Illyria, the upcoming comedy's modern setting will help patrons better connect with the script, said Morgan McCrary, artistic director for StageWorks.

"One of the things we talked about was how do we deal with the fact that this play has dukes and countesses and all that that we don't necessarily relate to today," she said. "So one of the things we wanted to do was put it in a nightclub that Countess Olivia owns. So that way, it's sort of like her territory, like her kingdom. So that way whenever anybody comes to visit they're intruding on her territory.

"So it has a little bit of a political feel to it that the original Shakespearean-time version might have had. I think [the modern setting] helps the modern audience relate to the characters more. It puts the story and the humor in a context that they relate to better."

To be performed at Clarence Brown Conference Center's Bartow Amphitheater -- 5450 State Route 20 in Cartersville -- the community theater group's production will begin at 7 p.m. on Oct. 15. Directed by Will Brooks, the comedy's 11-member cast will consist of Kara Duke as Viola, Zip Rampy as Orsino, Erin Brown as Olivia, Patrick Kincaid as Malvolio, Doug Cardoza as Sir Toby Belch, Joel Coady as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Karen Ruetz as Maria, Parris Sarter as Feste, Adam Kelley as Sebastian, Robert Trammell as Antonio and Mike Davis as Valentine.

"This [play] has a lot of elements of traditional comedy," McCrary said. "There's mistaken identity. There's sort of a foppish character who is hilarious. He steals the scene every time he's on the stage. It's about a girl who is one of a set of twins and they are shipwrecked. She believes her brother has died in the shipwreck. So she's in this unfamiliar country [and] she decides that the best way to survive is to disguise herself as a boy and try to get a job working for the duke.

"So she does that and ends up trying to referee this would-be romance between the duke and this countess, who really wants nothing to do with him. And the countess ends up falling in love with Viola [who] is the girl in disguise. Olivia, the countess, ends up falling in love with her, which of course complicates things because she's not who she appears to be. So that's one of the major themes of this play is that there's more than meets the eye with everyone."

Although it was penned more than 400 years ago, Brooks believes the romantic comedy still appeals to today's audiences.

"It's timeless," Brooks said. "It's the whole comedy of errors and mistaken identity kind of thing. ... This is a woman who describes herself as a man who falls in love with the man that she is working for. She's trying to persuade another woman to fall in love with the man that she is working for and this woman falls in love with her, not knowing that she's a woman. It's just a screwball comedy.

"It's a 400-year-old screwball comedy but it's still a screwball comedy and people love that kind of stuff. It's just whimsical and there's a little romance. It's very funny and there's some really good physical humor in it as well that always resonates. So I think that's what people can look forward to when they come out to see it. They'll have a good time and they're going to laugh."

For Melissa Rhodes, director of the Clarence Brown Conference Center, the facility's outdoor venue is an ideal locale to present offerings like "Twelfth Night."

"[I attended] the first one," Rhodes said, referring to StageWorks' presentation of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," which was held in the amphitheater. "I think most of the people who came really raved about the fact that we had that facility to host an outdoor play.

"We've hosted the local songwriters association and StageWorks and we [believe it is] a perfect venue for those type events. We'd love to attract more of those type things, especially in the fall and in the spring and summer, when it's nice to come out at night. There's just really nothing else like that in the area."

Tickets to "Twelfth Night" will be $5 at the door and free for children 12 and younger. Individuals are encouraged to bring seating -- blanket or lawn chair -- and refreshments to the show. For more information, call the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau at 770-387-1357.