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“Twelfth Night” serves audiences a sensory feast

Although the audience filled only half the seats in the Troutt Theater, it in no way reflected the quality of the Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s winter production of “Twelfth Night.”

For those unaware of the story of “Twelfth Night,” the comedy centers around the confusion that results when twins Viola and Sebastian end up on the same island after a shipwreck. With comedy and a bit of action and romance, the play can appeal to almost anyone.

From start to finish, the audience experienced amazing visuals from a moving set and costumes that were classically Shakespearean, collars and all. From the abundant use of colors, including a pair of shockingly yellow tights, to props galore, “Twelfth Night” was a pleasure to watch from a purely aesthetic standpoint.

However, the images weren’t the only beautiful part of the performance. The actors were a treat to watch, each bringing his or her character to life. In particular, the character of Feste, played by Garris Wimmer, was a joy to watch as he kept the audience laughing with the help of Sir Toby Belch and Andrew Aguecheek, played by Derek Whittaker and Justin Hand, respectively.

The trio of fools was often aided by Olivia’s handmaid Maria, who was played by Megan Murphy Chambers. Chambers was able to stand out among the rest of the actors with the exuberant delivery of her lines. Even though the character was on crutches throughout the entire play, it didn’t hinder Chambers’ skills.

The four characters created a great sub-story during the performance. Instead of just focusing on Viola, the story switched to the comedic antics of the characters plotting against Malvolio, a stern man bent on becoming rich. Malvolio was portrayed by Bobby Wyckoff. Toward the end of the play, this sub-story entwined once again with the main story in a way that ties up the end nicely.

Act 1 focused more on the plight of Viola, played by Madeline Fendrick. Sebastian, played by Matt Lytle, didn’t have a strong presence until Act 2.

Although the Shakespearean language may confuse some viewers, the acting behind the words makes the meaning as clear as day. The actors did a fantastic job of interacting with the audience. Whether it was from simple eye contact or a character running down the aisle quieting the crowd, the audience was never disconnected from the performance.

“Twelfth Night” also had a great musical aspect. Although not a musical in the sense of constant singing, the few songs that were sung were a pleasure to hear. Fendrick and Wimmer were the most common singers throughout the play, and it was easy to see why they were given the roles they were.

At the end of the play there was a group number, which involved the entire cast singing and dancing as it took its bows. The number provided a nice way to end a light-hearted play.

Overall, “Twelfth Night” is definitely worth seeing. The skillful actors get the audience emotionally connected to the characters, which sets the tone for a truly memorable performance.

From Jan. 8 to Jan. 25, it will be performed in Troutt Theater Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m and at 2:30 p.m. on Sundays.

On Jan. 30 and Jan. 31, however, the performance will be moved to Collins Auditorium on Lipscomb University’s campus. The performance times remain the same.

Tickets are $25 in advance for adults or $28 at the door. For seniors, advance tickets are $22, and tickets can be bought at the door for $25. Student tickets are $13 in advance and $16 at the door. For more information, visit the Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s website.

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