New York Classical Theatre will pay homage to its hometown with a roving production of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" that recasts the beloved comedy's setting as fin de siècle New York.
From May 31st to June 24th, the company will lead audiences on Shakespeare's lively journey of mistaken identities, misguided lovers, and joyous celebration, recasting the play's setting to New York City circa 1900.
Employing its signature "Panoramic Theatre" staging style, the company will escort audiences in a romp along a 2½-acre lake on Central Park’s western side, pausing to hatch a confusion of plots and declare various passions against a backdrop of waterfalls, bridges, and shady groves. The play will continue its run in Battery Park from June 26th to July 22nd.
The 13-year-old New York Classical Theatre has won widespread praise for its roving productions of classical plays in Central Park, Battery Park, and the World Financial Center, where standing-room-only audiences were recently treated to a trio of short comedies by the iconic French playwright Molière. Last summer, the company presented an acclaimed production of Shakespeare's “Henry V” that moved the audience via ferry boat from Battery Park to the Battle of Agincourt on Governors Island.
One of Shakespeare's most popular comedies, "Twelfth Night" is the master at his most playful and lyrical. It centers on the shipwrecked Viola, who disguises herself as a boy and heads to the court of Duke Orsino, where she's the catalyst for a heady dose of comedic misunderstandings, mischievous plots, love triangles, and a healthy infusion of musical interludes.
“The turn of the twentieth century was a magical time of excitement and possibility here in New York City, and that perfectly parallels this story of self-reinvention and new beginnings,” said New York Classical Theatre founder and artistic director Stephen Burdman. "This is my 25th year as a director, and I wanted to present this play, which includes some of Shakespeare's greatest poetry, as a "love letter" to the city that has provided me such a rewarding artistic home."
The free production will be directed by Burdman and will feature Ginny Myers Lee* (Viola), Chantal Jean-Pierre* (Olivia), Clay Storseth* (Orsino), Ian Antal (Andrew Aguecheek), John Michalski* (Toby Belch), Sean Hagerty* (Malvolio), Andy Paterson* (Feste), Ben Charles* (Sebastian), Nick Salamone* (Fabian), Laura J. Cole (Maria), Daniel Patrick Smith (Valentine), Danny Randerson (Antonio). The production designer is Amanda Bujak.
Selected performances will be preceded by the company's popular pre-performance workshops, Open and free to the public, the workshops are led by the cast members, who guide audience members of all ages through games and exercises that help them better understand the play.
New York Classical Theatre has won acclaim for its roving productions of classical plays by Shakespeare, Shaw, Moliere, and more in Central Park, Battery Park, Governors Island, and the World Financial Center. Founded by Stephen Burdman in 2000, the company has performed 27 free plays for more than 100,000 spectators and reaches a broad demographic of our urban community spanning all ages, ethnicities, education and income levels. In addition to their accessible productions, New York Classical Theatre presents free family workshops before selected performances of each production that offer children and their families an introduction to the world of a given play. For more information, visit www.newyorkclassical.org.
*Member Actors’ Equity Association