Twelfth Night, Or What You Will Play Review – A Tropical Holiday Shakespeare Experience

The witty, worded world of William Shakepeare has once again taken over Chicago Lincoln Park Conservatory for the holidays! Midsommer Flight’s popular intimate production of Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT, performed alley style among the flowers and tropical plants of the conservatory’s beautiful Show House Room (2391 N. Stockton Drive Chicago), has returned with a new cast for its fifth year. Performances are December 5 – 22, 2019. 

Jackie Seijo (Viola) & Michael Morrow (Duke Orsino)

Midsommer Flight company member Dylan S. Roberts, who earned raves for his staging of the company’s 2017 production, helms the 2019 edition. Roberts’ production departs from the company’s previous stagings in its modern dress costumes, evocative of wealthy elites of the early 20th Century, designed by Meagan Beattie. Roberts says Shakespeare’s characters look “wonderful and wealthy, colorful and different but they are masking an inner pain.” 

Jackie Seijo (Viola) & Shaina Toledo (Olivia)

Twelfth Night takes the audience to Illyria, where a shipwrecked Viola disguises herself as a boy to work for the Duke Orsino. She promptly falls in love with him, who in turn loves the fair lady, Olivia. Misunderstandings and misplaced love abound in this delightful comedy.

Laura Brennan (Fabian), Shaina Toledo (Olivia), Stephanie Mattos (Maria)

The cast includes Jackie Seijo (Viola), Shaina Toledo (Olivia), Michael Morrow (Orsino), Bailey Savage (Feste), Erika B. Caldwell (Malvolio), Chad Bay* (Sebastian), Zach Tabor (Sir Toby Belch), Stephanie Mattos* (Maria), Jason Goff (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), Alexis Ward (Antonio & Viola U/S), Laura Brennan (Fabian/Musician, Malvolio U/S), Olivia Lindsay (Officer/Musician), Brandon Nelson (Priest/Musician, Antonio U/S), JJ Smith (Sea Captain/Musician & Sebastian/Feste U/S), Wanda Jin (Olivia/Maria U/S), and Scott Myers (Sir Andrew/Sir Toby/Orsino U/S).

Shaina Toledo (Olivia), Michael Morrow (Duke Orsino), Alexis Ward (Antonio), Olivia Lindsay (Officer 1/Musician), Jackie Seijo (Viola)

The entire production of Twelfth Night will blow you away. Everything from the impeccably chosen cast to the staging to the costumes to the music is one fantastic Shakespearean ride. The actors put a modern spin on the classic play, set during the roaring 20s with sparkly, sequined flapper dresses, flowers, and fashionable suits and hats. Add loads of good humor and original music (sung and played by the ensemble itself), and you have one memorable performance. The clever staging is lovely and well planned when utilizing the long, narrow alley space inside the greenhouse among the exotic trees, plants and flowers. The staging is extremely intimate and the entire show is up close and personal.

Zach Tabor (Sir Toby Belch) & Erika B. Caldwell (Malvolio)
Erika B. Caldwell (Malvolio) & Bailey Savage (Feste)

What makes this version of Shakepeare’s famous play different from all others I have seen, is the way the talented actors make the staging/space work, the humor they brought to their roles and the story, and how they did their own singing and instrumental accompaniments (flute, drum, violin, guitar) for the music and songs. 

Jason Goff (Sir Andrew Aguecheek) & Jackie Seijo (Viola)

Each performer added fresh personality and incredibly funny, yet relatable aspects to their characters. Highlights include small but spunky  Jackie Seijo as Viola, Jasib Goff as hilarious Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Michael Marrow as Orsino and Bailey Savage as Feste. The cast worked together as a team and shone as one incredible entertaining unit for its audience. It was easy to connect with the characters as the actors exposed the raw vulnerability of human flaws and emotions of love, deception, betrayal, greed and jealousy. They demonstrated amazing chemistry and energy  together, which added to the humanity and overall flow of the play. I highly recommend experiencing Twelfth Night this winter before it leaves! 

Photos: Courtesy of Midsommerflight.com

*Tickets are pay-what-you can and reservations are strongly recommended. For more information visit the Midsommer Flight website

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