‘Twelfth Night’ will have you laughing

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2008

Natchez Little Theatre is proud to present the third show of the 61st Season, Shakespeare’s comedy of mistaken identities, “Twelfth Night.” The show opened Thursday and continues at 7:30 p.m. through Saturday. It closes at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for senior citizens, 60 and above, and youth, 18 and under.

“Twelfth Night” is noted as one of Shakespeare’s most studied and best loved plays. The twin-based comedy of cross-dressing and mistaken identity is very accessible.

Based on a critically acclaimed and award-winning Los Angeles adaptation, “An Appalachian Twelfth Night,” by Mississippi native, Robert L. Williams, this production has been readapted by Tommy Jackson, this production’s director, to a Mississippi setting during the Civil War, where a steamboat wrecks a few miles north of Natchez, on a piece of land between Illyria Plantation and Sonnet Plantation. Viola, Teresa Busby, and her brother, Sebastian, Landon Henry, are cast out into the raging Mississippi River, each thinking the other has drowned.

Email newsletter signup

Viola makes it to shore at Illyria Plantation, owned by Duke Orsino, played by Rob Conger, and poses as a man named Cesario, to gain employment. Orsino is in love with Olivia Sonnet of Sonnet Plantation, played by Deanne Tanksley, and decides to use Cesario as an intermediary.  Olivia believing Viola to be a man, falls in love with this handsome and eloquent messenger. Viola, has in turn fallen in love with Orsino, who believes Viola is a man, and regards her as a confidant.

When Sebastian arrives on the scene, confusion ensues.  Mistaking him for Viola, Olivia asks him to marry her, and they are secretly betrothed.  Finally when the twins appear in the presence of both Olivia and Duke, there is more wonder and awe at their similarity, at which point Viola reveals that she is really a female and that Sebastian is her lost twin brother. Much of the play is taken up in comic subplots, in which several characters conspire against Malvolio, Olivia’s lawyer, played by me, to make him think that Olivia is in love with him.

The remainder of the cast includes:  Casey Gilbert as Feste; Owen Shugard as Toby Belch; Alisha Graham as Maria; Cain Madden; John Harter; Don Vesterse; Dwight Williams and Marylee Williams.

“Twelfth Night,” or “What You Will” was written around 1601, and first published around 1623. The main title is thought to be an afterthought after another play, “What You Will,” premiered during its writing.  The earliest known performance took place at Middle Temple Hall on Candlemas, Feb. 2, 1602.

This rousing production incorporates original music by Bob Sizemore and further tells the tale of mistaken identity, mixed up passion and drunken merriment.

Reservations are recommended and may be made by calling 601-442-2233; 1-877-440-2233 or online at www.natcheztheatre.com. The box office opens one hour before the show and the theater is located at 319 Linton Ave.

Layne Taylor is the executive and artistic director of the Natchez Little Theatre.