Twelfth Night – Musical – Seattle Shakespeare Company

Elevator Thoughts (aka Tweet): Twelfth Night musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic by Shaina Taub & Kwame Kwei-Armah at Seattle Shakespeare Company. Directed by Ruben Van Kempen and music directed by R.J. Tancioco. If anything, see it for the Broadway quality score and the great voices! Lots of gender themes Seattle-ites will be sure to eat up. #12thNight #TwelfthNight

Synopsis from the Theatre: Viola and her brother Sebastian are separated in a devastating shipwreck. Naturally, Viola decides to disguise herself as a man in this new land and, now as Cesario, get a job for Duke Orsino, with whom she instantly falls in love. Duke Orsino, however, loves the countess Olivia, and sends Viola-as-Cesario to woo her. Olivia, unaware of Viola’s disguise, falls in love with Cesario. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Viola, Sebastian has been rescued and is about to add another angle to this love shape. Shakespeare’s romantic comedy of mistaken identity and self-discovery is given a rousing musical adaptation originally premiered at New York’s Public Theatre, featuring an onstage band and a score inspired by jazz, soul, and showtunes from critically acclaimed musician Shaina Taub.

Reviewed Performance: 5/13/23 Semi-opening Weekend – The company performed a couple of previews and I think even the opening night. But COVID prematurely closed opening weekend and the weekend after that. This was the first full weekend that they performed, which is unfortunate since that means COVID basically wiped-out half of their performances. The original run was scheduled for 4/26 to this weekend’s 5/21.

Type: Musical

World Premiere: No

Several or Few Scenes: Several

Several or Few Settings/Locations: Several

Prior Exposure/Knowledge Required: This is best enjoyed by those familiar with the original Twelfth Night Shakespeare play story.

Defined Plot/Storyline: Yes, but it’s difficult to follow if you can’t understand Shakespearean English like me. 🙁

Live Band/Orchestra: Yes, a 6-person band with the ensemble occasionally jumping in. James Shilling played the trombone. Karin Terry (Feste) played the accordion. If I’m not mistaken, I think another actor played the ukelele.

Recommendation: See it, especially if you can follow Shakesperean English or you’re familiar with the original Twelfth Night play story. Honestly, I’m not familiar with the play and I couldn’t follow the story (Shakespeare English is hard!), but the Broadway-quality score and great voices made this show worth attending! You’ll like this show if you enjoyed the Head Over Heels mashup between old English and modern musical elements.

Was This the First Time I Attended a Production of this Show: Yes

Would I See It Again 3 Years from Now: Probably not but it was very good

Rating Compared to Other Shows with the Same Production Value:
4.5 stars (Out of 5 Stars)

Equity Actors: 5

Total Number of Actors: 14

Length (Including Any Intermission): 1.5 hours

Intermission: No

Other Rave(s) Not Mentioned in Elevator Thoughts

  • Broadway-quality Music: Since the set and graphic design was Seattle-themed with Pike Place Market and Rainier beer logos, I initially assumed this was a world premier written in Seattle. From the very first lively opening song hook “Play On” to the funky interludes like “Word on the Street” to the final gospel choir-like “Eyes of Another” song, I kept thinking that the music could be on a Broadway or West End original cast album recording. Later, I found out that this wasn’t a Seattle world premiere and there actually was a New York City production with a cast recording! Below are a couple of other song highlights:
    • “Is This Not Love?” – Sung by Feste (Karin Terry). It sounded like a classic Broadway ballad.
    • “What Kind of Man R U Gonna Be?” – This was in the style of 80s fitness training songs. Performers wore retro wrist/head bands. It reminded me of the Miss Step musical and Jane Fonda.
    • “Count Malvolio” – Sung by Malvolio (Jon Lutyens). It reminded me of vintage golden age can-can showbiz energy. A tap dance number would have been a perfect addition!
    • “You’re the Worst” – It sounded like a classic Broadway comic relief song.
    • “Crazy in Love”: There was a brief wink to Beyonce’s smash hit song.
  • Voices: Obviously, Andi Alhadeef (Olivia) and Alexandria J Henderson (Viola) showcased their amazing diva-quality voices. They made sweet harmony together especially in “I Am She.” Their harmony was also exceptional in “If You Were My Beloved” when Hisam Goueli (Orsino) joined in. I was surprised when I heard Hisam sing since I’ve seen him so many times on-stage in Seattle in only non-singing roles. Honorable mentions to Danny Kam (Sir Toby Belch) and Jimmy Shields (Sir Andrew Aguecheek) for hitting the high notes.

Other Musing(s) and Observation(s)

  • Seattle Theme: As mentioned previously, the set and the graphics were Seattle-themed. Was this because of similarities between Seattle and Illyria? Or was it just chosen to indulge the Seattle audience? Let me know in my social media link comments below!
  • Gender Themes: Seattleites will be sure to eat up the gender bending, gender fluidity, non-binary, gender equality/empowerment themes in this show.

Theatre Company: Seattle Shakespeare Company

Venue: Center Theatre at Seattle Center Armory

Venue Physical Address: 305 Harrison St, Seattle, WA 98109

Price: Medium

Ticket Affordability Options: Surprisingly (for a Seattle theatre company) I could not find anything.

Dates: April 26 – May 21, 2023 with 2 weekends canceled because of COVID-19

Seating: Assigned Seating

Parking: Paid street parking or paid lot/garage parking. I usually park on the street near the skating park (313 Taylor Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109) East of the theatre. It’s more expensive on Climate Pledge Arena event days though. In that case, I might take the bus or park in South Lake Union around Dexter Avenue and Harrison Street.

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Other Video +/- Pictures: See pictures in video and under video

Cast and Production Team: See after pictures and video below

@showsiveseen “Twelfth Night” #musical adaptation of #Shakespeare‘s classic by Shaina Taub & Kwame Kwei-Armah at Seattle Shakespeare Company. Directed by Ruben Van Kempen & music directed by RJ Tancioco. If anything, see it for the Broadway quality score & the great voices! Seattle-ites will be sure eat up the gender themes. Review: #12thNight #TwelfthNight #theatre ♬ Play On – Shaina Taub & Ato Blankson-Wood & Nikki M. James & ‘Twelfth Night’ Company
IllyrianSimone Alene
OliviaAndi Alhadeff*
Fabian, IllyrianAnia Briggs
IllyrianNatalya Czosnyka
OrsinoHisam Goueli
ViolaAlexandria J. Henderson*
Sir Toby BelchDanny Kam
MalvolioJon Lutyens*
Sebastian, IllyrianDonovan Mahannah
MariaPilar O’Connell*
Backstage Illyrian SingerJames Schilling
Sir Andrew AguecheekJimmy Shields*
FesteKarin Terry
Antonio, IllyrianJarron A. Williams
Olivia (Understudy)Simone Alene
Viola/Sebastian (Understudy)Ania Briggs
Fabian/Maria (Understudy)Natalya Czosnyka
Feste (Understudy)Pilar O’Connell*
Orsino/MaIvoIio/Toby (Understudy)James Schilling
Keyboard/ConductorR.J. Tancioco or Ben Bentler
TrumpetPavel Spichak or Harlan Feinstein
ReedJay Easton or Nathaniel Schleimer
GuitarAnthony Pooley
BassOlivia Hamilton or Ethan Sabotta
DrumsJames Pingenot or James “Rif” Reif
Orchestration and Band ArrangerMike Brun
DirectorRuben Van Kempen
Composer and LyricistShaina Taub
WritersKwame Kwei-Armah, Shaina Taub
Music DirectorR.J. Tancioco
ChoreographerKathryn Van Meter**
Scenic DesignerParmida Ziaei
Costume DesignerJocelyne Fowler
Lighting DesignerKristi Matthews
Sound DesignerBenjamin Radin
Properties DesignerRobin Macartney
Intimacy DirectorJasmine Lomax
Fight ChoreographerHarry Todd Jamieson
Assistant Music DirectorBenjamin Bentler
Text CoachMakaela Milburn
Stage ManagerElizabeth Stasio*
Fight/lntimacy CaptainPilar O’Connell*
Dance CaptainJimmy Shields*
Assistant Stage ManagerClair Kaminski*
COVID Safety OfficerJocelyne Fowler
Technical DirectorBenjamin Radin
Assistant Technical DirectorAndrew Long
Master Audio EngineerConor Fortner
Master Electrician – Rehearsal/TechDanny Herter
Master Electrician – PerformancesClint Bull
Master PainterJessica Christensen
Wardrobe MasterEmily Kight
*The Actors and Stage Managers Are Members of Actors’ Equity Association, The Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
**Members of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society

In the Time of the Butterflies – Play – Book-It Repertory Theatre

Actors: Aviona Rodriguez Brown, Beth Pollack, Jasmine Lomax, Sofía Raquel Sánchez, Quetzie Taborga, Carolynne Wilcox. Photo: Anthony Floyd

Elevator Pitch/Thoughts/Tweet: “In the Time of the #Butterflies” play adaptation of the book w/ Book-It Repertory Theatre at Seattle Center. Extraordinary Mirabal mariposa sisters fight against “El Jefe’s” tyranny in the Dominican Republic. Timely piece for the invasion in Ukraine. #butterfly #mariposas #dominicanRepublic #theatre

Type: Play

Recommendation: See it especially if you like history.

Rating (Out of 5 Stars): 4 stars

Theater Company: Book-it Repertory Theatre

Venue: Center Theatre at Seattle Center Armory – 305 Harrison Street, Seattle, WA 98109

Price: $$ (Medium)

Dates: September 21 – October 16, 2022

Seating: Assigned Seating


Other Media:

@showsiveseen “In the Time of the #Butterflies#play adaptation of the book w/ Book-It Repertory Theatre at @seattlecenter. Extraordinary #Mirabal #mariposa #sisters fight against #ElJefe‘s tyranny in the #Dominican Republic. Timely piece for the invasion in Ukraine. #butterfly #mariposas #girlPower #dominicanRepublic #theatre ♬ Butterfly – Demi Lovato
Actors: Aviona Rodriguez Brown, Beth Pollack, Sofía Raquel Sánchez, Quetzie Taborga. Photo: Anthony Floyd
Actor: Sofía Raquel Sánchez. Photo: Anthony Floyd

Want – Play – Shattered Glass Project

“Want” world premiere play opening night at the Seattle Center Theatre w/ Shattered Glass Project. Enjoyed the contrast between jaded, paranoid, & crazy VS prim, proper, & prissy. #jealousy #poverty
@showsiveseen "Want" world premiere opening night at the @seattlecenter Theatre w/ #ShatteredGlass Project. Enjoyed the contrast between #jaded, paranoid, & #crazy VS prim, proper, & prissy. #jealousy #poverty ♬ Disaster Girl – The Vaccines

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“The Bonesetter’s Daughter” stage play adaptation of Amy Tan’s book w/ dad at Book-it Repertory. Layered story w/ many great themes. Makes me want to write down my parents’ story. The cast really hustled w/ all the cast doubling! #China #Chinese #Asian #Asia
@showsiveseen "The #Bonesetter's Daughter" stage #play adaptation of #AmyTan's book w/ dad at Book-it Repertory Theatre. Layered story w/ many great themes. Makes me want to write down my parents' story. The cast really hustled w/ all the cast doubling! #china #chinese ♬ Chinese-style fantasy songs using various Chinese musical instruments – Yukari Okano

Mrs. Caliban – Play – Book-it Repertory Theatre

“Mrs. Caliban” stage adaptation of the novella at Book-it Repertory Theatre. An ocean monster man disrupts the monontous routine of a lonely unfulfilled suburban #housewife. With such a #bizarre story, this #play was oddly #indescribable (in a good way). #fantasy