Category Archive for: ‘Greg & Suzanne Angeo’
Reviewed by Suzanne and Greg Angeo
Members, San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle
Photos by Jeff Thomas and Tom Chown
A Sumptuous and Splendid “Twelfth Night”
It’s hard to imagine a more important or influential wordsmith than William Shakespeare, or one with more enduring relevance. This year, celebrations worldwide are underway, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s passing on April 23. And right here in the Bay Area there’s a dazzling production of his “Twelfth Night” that’s unlike anything you will see onstage, unless you were lucky enough to catch the London premiere…in 1602.
The Theatre Arts Department at Santa Rosa Junior College is presenting Shakespeare’s zany comedy of manners and mistaken identity, in the 400-seat Burbank Auditorium, as an “original practices” production. This means that what you will see onstage is a recreation of the staging, and stagecraft, that Elizabethan audiences would have seen, as closely as is possible in modern times.
Director Leslie McCauley’s dedication to beauty and attention to detail in this show is amazing, inspired by private workshops and her study of Elizabethan staging practices while she was in London. Much of the lighting is from candles and several hanging candelabra that fill the room with a soft, golden glow. All music is true to the period and is performed live by five superb musicians on an assortment of late Renaissance instruments, without amplification. At an opening night pre-show, presented 20 minutes before curtain, you could observe actors onstage, getting made up and putting on their ornate, heavy dresses as the musicians played a selection of period favorites, which really helped establish a sense of time and place.
Costumes and makeup by Maryanne Scozzari and set design by Peter Crompton are all gorgeous. And the acting? Because there were no women actors in England in those days, all the roles are played by men (which adds to the fun, as you can well imagine). McCauley’s gifted student cast delivers vividly crafted performances with superb comic timing. In this tale of shipwrecks and subterfuge, songs are sung, jigs are danced and brave gents woo fair ladies. In one instance, a gent is playing a lady playing a gent and immediately falls in love with another gent (you just have to be there).
McCauley guides superb performances from the entire cast. Standouts include: Kot Takahashi as the mournful Olivia, pursued by many suitors; Matt Heredia as Viola, a shipwrecked maiden who masquerades as a page named Cesario; Daniel Banales as lady-in-waiting Mariah, she of the priceless facial expressions and scornful attitude; and Erin Galloway as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, a knightly nave with cavorting, romance and ale on his mind. Also memorable are Evan Held as Duke Orsino and David McCullough as the house steward Malvolio. A key role is played by Noah Sternhill as Feste, the household fool and quite possibly the smartest guy in town. Sternhill is a very versatile performer, sings some really lovely Renaissance songs a cappella, and plays the pipe (a kind of flute) and tabor (a small drum) throughout the show.
It does run a bit long. The program says it’s two-and-a-half hours – on opening night it ran over three. But it’s well worth it and there’s ne’er a dull moment, a hilarious and uplifting show, loaded with pleasures and surprises on every level even if you don’t “speak” Shakespeare. You feel a sense of wonder, of festival, of jugglers and jesters and joy. This is not just a play, but an event.
When: Now through May 8, 2016
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m.
Saturdays and Sunday matinees at 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 1 at 3:00 p.m., “A Day Under the Oaks”
Tickets: $12 to $18
Where: Burbank Auditorium at SRJC
1501 Mendocino Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95401