Don’t Miss “Twelfth Night” Next Saturday in Sierra Madre, Plus July 31 in La Crescenta
The Southern California Lyric Theater, working with the City of Sierra Madre and the County of Los Angeles, has chosen the Bard’s comedy “Twelfth Night” for its fifth annual summer production in Sierra Madre Memorial Park. It truly is a splendid production and really should not be missed. The actors are splendid, darn funny and their timing is excellent, making the productions by far one of the best arts events Sierra Madre has to offer this summer.
The printed program for the event caught us off guard however, when our eagle-eyed, Bard-loving Courtney Blackburn pointed out that the painting on the cover of the program is known as “The Tempest”, another Shakespeare play, distinctly dissimilar from “Twelfth Night”. Painted by John William Waterhouse, the piece features Miranda, a character from “The Tempest”.
Perhaps it’s an inside joke and Lyric Theater is testing us to see if we’d notice. Well played, Lyric Theater. Well played.
Although not quite the Drury Lane Theatre in London, Sierra Madre’s Memorial Park offers a nice contrast for this, a most splendid Shakespeare production directed by John Szura and Alison Eliel Kalmus (Producing Artistic Director).
With this particular production set in the 1920s, “Twelfth Night” is a screwball comedy of cross-dressing and mistaken identity which follows the romantic adventures of Viola and her twin Sebastian who have shipwrecked in Illyria, a crossroads of hoods, dames and internationals. With raucous antics, rich characters, ravishing language and music, Shakespeare creates a bittersweet tale of laughter and longing as SCLT continues the excellence of its last five seasons of professional classics.
In the kingdom of Illyria, a nobleman named Orsino (played by Matthew Breher) lies around listening to music, pining away for the love of Lady Olivia (played by Linda Slade). As luck would have it, he cannot have her because she is in mourning for her dead brother and refuses to entertain any proposals of marriage.
Meanwhile, off the coast, a storm has caused a terrible shipwreck. A young, aristocratic-born woman named Viola is swept onto the Illyrian shore. Finding herself alone in a strange land, she assumes that her twin brother, Sebastian (Mark Schroeder), has been drowned in the wreck, and tries to figure out what sort of work she can do.
A friendly sea captain tells her about Orsino’s courtship of Olivia, and Viola (played by Jessica Maynard) says that she wishes she could go to work in Olivia’s home. But since Lady Olivia refuses to talk with any strangers, Viola decides that she cannot look for work with her. Instead, she decides to disguise herself as a man, taking on the name of Cesario, and goes to work in the household of Duke Orsino.
Viola (disguised as Cesario) quickly becomes a favorite of Orsino, who makes Cesario his page. Viola finds herself falling in love with Orsino—a difficult love to pursue, as Orsino believes her to be a man. But when Orsino sends Cesario to deliver Orsino’s love messages to the disdainful Olivia, Olivia herself falls for the beautiful young Cesario, believing her to be a man.
The love triangle is complete: Viola loves Orsino, Orsino loves Olivia, and Olivia loves Cesario—and everyone is miserable. Marvelous!
If you’re confused, fear not. You are definitely not alone. All shall be revealed (or so their program proclaims) when you visit Memorial Park in Sierra Madre the next two Saturday evenings at 6:30. The play is free and lawn seating is ample and comfortable.
Story and Photos by Terry Miller