|Viola/Cesario (Emily Gunyou Halaas) swinging with Olivia|
(Sun Mee Chomet) while Sebastian (Michael Hanna)
looks on (photo by Dan Norman)
Here are a few highlights of this production.
- I'm not going to spoil the opening of the show, but it's a fun and unexpected twist (hint: watch for a misbehaving audience member).
- Minnesota native and onetime Guthrie usher Tom Quaintance is making his directing debut here, and imbues the show with a great sense of fun and playfulness, while still bringing out the depths of the grief, confusion, and longing the characters are feeling.
- The story is set on an island, so of course there's water. The stage is covered in a pool just one or two inches deep, with a platform in the center and decks through and around it. Characters heedlessly splash through the water, or delicately tiptoe through it (I'm looking at you Malvolio), adding another element of play (scenic designer Naomi Dawson).
- The opening shipwreck scene is truly spectacular and brings the audience right into the storm, with flashes of light, loud noises, and characters being gracefully thrown about (lighting designer Yi Zhao, sound designer Sartje Pickett, movement director Carl Flink).
- Emily Gunyou Halaas/Michael Hanna as Viola/Sebastian are perhaps the most believable twins I've seen in this show, and not just because they've both cut their beautiful brunette hair into super cool matching dos with shaved sides and a longer swooping center. Their love and loss for each other is palpable, and Emily's Viola/Cesario dance is impressive.
|what fools! (Sally Wingert, Sarah Jane Agnew, and Joy Dolo)|
(photo by Dan Norman)
- What a bunch of clowns in this show! From Luverne Seifert's (the ultimate clown) wise fool Feste, to Sally Wingert's drunken Sir Toby, to Sarah Jane Agnew's scheming Maria, to Jim Lichtscheidl's poor bullied Malvolio. Each one of these actors is a treat to watch in all of their choices, and together they're great fun.
- Guthrie Theater patrons, welcome to the wonderful world of Joy Dolo, making her Guthrie debut here. She is perhaps the most aptly named person I know; she brings joy to every show, and is perhaps at her most joyful here as Sir Andrew, with lots of physical comedy and playing with the audience as this character that is not the most graceful, socially or physically.
- As the Duke Orsino and grieving Olivia, Nate Cheeseman and Sun Mee Chomet are both strong and regal, as well as endearingly foolish in love.
|if music be the food of love... (Sally Wingert, Luverne Seifert,|
Nate Cheeseman, and Sun Mee Chomet, photo by Dan Norman)
- There's a lot of music built into this script, and this production realizes it in a unique sort of rock/pop way with mics and various instrumentation of the original compositions (by sound designer Sartje Pickett). Everyone gets in on the action at some point, but the core band is Michael Hanna on keyboard (and assistant music director), Jim Lichtsheidl on guitar and percussion, and Tyson Forbes on fiddle. It really exemplifies this play's most famous line, "if music be the food of love play on!"
- Characters are dressed in a mix of modern and classic clothing, each one with a very specific wardrobe that tells us who they are. Usually it's the dresses that catch my eye at the Guthrie (and Olivia does have a few stunning numbers), but I'm kind of obsessed with Sir Toby's endless array of patterned suits (costume designer Ann Closs-Farley).
This fun and playful and 100% locally cast Twelfth Night continues on the Guthrie thrust stage through March 22.