If music be the food of love, play on! The Nashville Shakespeare Festival will perform the charming comedy Twelfth Night as part of its Winter Shakespeare series. The production that runs Jan. 8-31 is directed by Executive Artistic Director Denice Hicks with an original score composed and performed by Rolin Mains.
“Clearly a kind of farewell to unmixed comedy, Twelfth Night nevertheless seems to me much the funniest of Shakespeare’s plays…,” literary critic and scholar Harold Bloom wrote at the start of an essay on the play. Misunderstandings and machinations abound in a work rich with Shakespeare’s broad knowledge of the human condition.
“Twelfth Night is a really funny play,” Hicks says. “With a fairy tale approach, we are going to make the most of the comedy and romance, as we aim to lift spirits and lighten heavy hearts in the darkest days of winter.”
Mains is a composer, pianist, musical director and producer who won a Dove Award for Best Instrumental Album of the Year and nominations for two others. He is also founder of the Nashville Composers Association.
Madeline Fendrick, who has been on tour as half of the musical duo “Fendrick and Peck,” is making her Nashville Shakespeare Festival debut in the role of Viola. The plucky character survives a shipwreck and the loss of her twin, and then dresses up like a boy until she can figure out what to do with the rest of her life. In her new male identity, “Cesario,” she goes to work for Duke Orsino, for whom she has a secret crush.
Orsino is played by Santiago Sosa, who returns to the Nashville Shakespeare Festival after portraying Oliver this past summer in As You Like It. Orsino is in love with the countess Olivia, who falls in love with “Cesario”. Tamiko Robinson, also making her Nashville Shakespeare Festival debut, will play Olivia.
Other members of the stellar cast include Bobby Wyckoff in the role of Malvolio, Garris Wimmer as Feste, Derek Whittaker as Sir Toby Belch, Antonio Nappo as Antonio, Justin Hand as Andrew Aguecheek, Matt Lytle as Sebastian and Megan Murphy Chambers as Maria.
Set design is by Paul Gatrell while June Kingsbury has created production’s costumes. Light design is by Anne Willingham.
The Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s production of Twelfth Night is part of Shakespeare in American Communities, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. This production is also funded in part by the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission and the Tennessee Arts Commission. Waddey Patterson PC is a season sponsor for 2015.
For tickets to the public performances, visit the Nashville Shakespeare Festival website or call (615) 852-6732. A Winter Shakespeare Royal Package with premium reserved balcony seating and other perks is available.
To purchase tickets for school matinees, which are scheduled Jan. 7-30 at 10 a.m., email Nettie Kraft.
*Photos by Jeff Frazier of Santiago Sosa as Orsino, Madeline Fendrick as Viola and Tamiko Robinson as Olivia courtesy Nashville Shakespeare Festival.