- About WCT
- How to Participate
- Special Events
- Contact Info
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Robb Smith
May 6 to 22, 2011
Photos By Carroll Studios Of Photography
Volunteer of the Production
By JULIE McHALE - TimeOut Theater Critic
May 12, 2011
WAUKESHA - It is a brave community theater that chooses a Shakespeare play as its fare. I don’t recall the Waukesha Civic Theatre attempting this task before, at least not in its recent history, but "Twelfth Night" is on the boards as I write, and it is worth your patronage.
Shakespeare’s romantic comedies often are formulaic, employing certain standard dramatic ploys: mistaken identities, a wise clown, physical humor, poetic avowals of undying love and happy endings with all problems resolved. Except for its inclusion of some cruelty, "Twelfth Night" pretty much fits the pattern.
As the play opens, Viola, who has been washed up on shore in Illyria, is grieving over Sebastian, her lost twin brother. Olivia is grieving over her lost father and brother, and Duke Orsino is grieving over his unrequited love for Olivia.
It’s many unhappy people for openers. As a means of supporting herself, Viola disguises herself as a young man, calling herself Cesario, as she applies for a job as courier to Orsino. Olivia has vowed to grieve for seven years, but Orsino is persistent nonetheless, sending love messages via Cesario. Matters soon become more complicated when Olivia falls in love with the messenger, not the message.
Much of the play involves the drunken buffoonery of Olivia’s resident relative, Toby Belch, and his cohort Sir Andrew Aguecheek, another of Olivia’s unsuccessful suitors.
Together with Maria, Olivia’s maid, they devise a scheme to humiliate Malvolio, Olivia’s chief steward, who often chides them for their overindulgence. Maria forges love letters, supposedly from Olivia, telling him how to dress and act to please her.
Malvolio, who is quite self-impressed for starters, is not altogether surprised at her attraction. This leads to mayhem down the line and some of the cruelty I alluded to earlier.
Feste, a wandering clown, who says or sings funny things and expects to be paid for her commentary, is a major player in this story. She is often the sage who points up human folly, which is ever a major component in Shakespeare’s plays.
Sebastian suddenly appears, having been saved from drowning by Antonio, who has taken a great liking for his rescued friend. Sebastian is soon mistaken for Cesario, causing confusion to reach fever pitch. Eventually, all true identities are revealed, and several unions take place. The only two left out in the cold are Antonio and Malvolio.
Several actors are quite comfortable with Shakespeare’s language, which is no small feat. Ruth Arnell as Maria and Mark Neufang as Malvolio stand out above the rest in making The Bard’s words very accessible.
Other very competent performances are delivered by Gene Schuldt as Toby Belch, Michelle Lynn Brien as Feste, Jenny Kosek as Olivia, Spencer Mather as Sir Andrew and Colleen Kartheiser as Viola. Kosek’s comic bits are especially engaging in view of her usual somber disposition, and Schuldt and Mather deliver the physical humor with abandon.
The physical likeness between Olivia and Sebastian (played by Matthew Lovison) was also quite amazing.
Costume designer Aleta Bernard did an outstanding job on all fronts, but director Robb Smith, who also served as the set and sound designer and constructor, deserves the most credit.
As an aid to audiences who haven’t read or encountered Shakespeare for decades, perhaps a few more program notes would have been helpful
By Marilyn Jozwik
Posted: May 10, 2011
Watching a Shakespeare play is like looking at a painting that depicts a painting within another painting. The harder you look, the more layers and meanings to the artist's intent you'll find.
Or, you can just step back and say, "That is lovely."
So it is with Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night." You can analyze the characters and their reasons for doing what they do. Or, you can just sit back and say, "That was fun!"
Waukesha Civic Theatre has put an exclamation point on the "fun" in its rendition of one of the Bard's most popular comedies.
Like so many Shakespeare plays, "Twelfth Night" relies on mistaken identity, deception, disguises, trickery and double entendres for its humor.
The story starts when twins Viola (Colleen Kartheiser) and Sebastian (Matthew Lovison) are separated in a shipwreck, each presuming the other dead, as they land on the shores of Illyria.
Viola, who disguises herself as a young man, finds employment as an attendant to Orsino (Jim Donaldson), a duke, and takes the name Cesario.
Cesario's first assignment is to visit the court of the beautiful Olivia (Jenny Kosek) and proclaim his/her master's love for her. But instead, Olivia falls for the cross-dressed Cesario. To make matters worse, Cesario is falling for Orsino, who thinks she is a lad.
Bending the love triangles into twists and knots are the devious Maria (Ruth Arnell), Olivia's lady-in-waiting, and the duo of Sir Toby Belch (Gene Schuldt) and Sir Andrew (Spencer Mather) who are later joined by Fabian (Wesley Yoshino).
The quartet conspire to plant love notes and play malicious tricks that further tangle heartstrings.
Shakespeare's fool in this show is Feste, played by Michelle Lynn Brien. Her dress of many-hued squares and matching hat (created by Ann-Elizabeth Shapera), lovely soprano voice and well-delivered wit add bursts of color to her scenes.
Kartheiser as the lad Cesario is great fun to watch as she realizes Olivia has taken to Cesario and turns to the audience to describe the knotty situation ("She loves me sure, I am the man"). She then struggles to keep up her ruse with playful good-ol'-boy jabs at her master, Orsino, and shows of male bravado, while finding herself falling in love with him.
Kosek has shown tremendous versatility and maturity on the WCT stage with her marvelous portrayals as the husband killer in "Crimes of the Heart," dippy hippy in "Alone Together," and her current turn as the maiden Olivia.
Perhaps the most difficult role is that of Malvolio (Mark Neufang), Olivia's servant who finds a love letter he thinks has been written by her. Neufang drips with emotion as he reads the fraudulent words, penned by Maria in Olivia handwriting, then is locked away after he assaults Olivia with his intentions. There is a certain sadness and anger that underlies the bold gestures and wild costumes as he learns of the deception. "You are idle, shallow things. I shall know none of you," he scoffs at all his detractors.
Director Robb Smith has squeezed lots of comedy out of each of his main characters, who articulate Shakespeare's words with relative ease. Through their gestures, timing and proper emphasis they're able to milk a lot of laughs.
Some of the secondary characters, however, have a tendency to drone a bit with their lines.
Each of the main actors puts a distinctive stamp on his or her character, aided by some nice period costuming. From Mather's Sir Andrew (the simple-minded drinking partner of Sir Toby Belch), who prances about the stage like Winnie the Pooh's bouncy tiger friend Tigger, to Arnell's devious wisecracking Maria, the cast proves up to the challenges of Shakespeare.
Using the theater aisles and a nearly prop-less stage, actors have a generous playground on which to gesture and move about. On preview night, the action had no interruption, with seamless scene changes and the focus squarely on the actors and Shakespeare's words.
Kenneth has a passion for being involved in community theatre. In addition to his contributions as an active member of the cast, he also assisted in the construction of the set and helped to sell raffle tickets at intermission during the run of the show. His willingness to learn and improve was evidenced by his always showing up early for all rehearsals and performances. One cast member said "He is always gracious…" and another said "Kenneth is a delight to work with!"