Staples Players’ spring production is “Twelfth Night.”
People might think: “Teenagers doing Shakespeare. I’ll pass.”
For one thing, Players is no ordinary high school troupe. Their near Broadway-quality shows always entertain, excite and inspire.
For another — and this is key — this “Twelfth Night” is not really Shakespeare. It’s a big, bold musical, filled with singing and dancing.
It’s funny. It’s fun. It’s accessible.
And it zips along: 12 songs are packed into a quick — and very engrossing — 90 minutes.
Players directors David Roth and Kerry Long knew they were taking a risk. “Twelfth Night” — whether familiar Shakespeare, or an unfamiliar musical — is a tough sell.
But they loved Shaina Taub’s music. They knew that the cast recording was popular with theater people. (When the Public Theatre debuted the show in 2018, the New Yorker called it “less an interpretation of Shakespeare’s comedy than a block party sprinkled with iambic pentameter.”)
And when the directors announced it this winter, they challenged Players cast members to listen to the jazz-funk-pop score with open ears.
The next days, the young actors were singing in the halls. (Click below for senior Sophia Betit, singing during rehearsal.)
During their 65-year history, Players have tackled Shakespeare before. Roth and Long directed “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 2005, and “Romeo & Juliet” 3 years later.
As with much of The Bard’s work, despite being over 400 years old, “Twelfth Night” remains timely.
The plot deals with “our perceptions of gender — what it means to be a man or a woman, and how women are perceived in society,” Roth says.
(After a shipwreck, a woman dresses as a man to get a job. And of course, there are love complications.)
“The message of the show is about walking in another person’s shoes, and seeing how the world perceives you,” Long explains. “There’s not a lot of equity.”
“Twelfth Night” is not “Mamma Mia!” or “Grease.” But — like those Staples Players blockbusters — it too will thrill audiences of all ages.
“We want to expose people to shows we love,” Roth says. “Take a 90-minute leap of faith with us!”
(“Twelfth Night” performances are March 17, 18, 24 and 25 at 7:30 p.m., and March 19 and 25 at 3 p.m. Youngsters 12 and under get a sweet swag bag, including a coupon for a free ice cream cone donated by Saugatuck Sweets, plus a button proudly announcing “My first Shakespeare!”
(Click here for tickets, and more information. Click below to hear the original cast recording music.)
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