Twelfth Night Brings Shakespeare Back to USAO Stage
One of Shakespeare’s most studied and best-loved plays takes the stage at the University of Science and Arts Nov. 14-16. But this is not the first time the classic has made an appearance at USAO.
The Twelfth Night production is a part of the centennial celebration at USAO. Katie Davis, assistant professor of drama and director for the production, researched plays performed at the university during the last 100 years. Twelfth Night was the most performed Shakespearean play.
The twin-based comedy of cross-dressing and mistaken identity premiers Nov. 14-15 at 7:30 p.m. in the Davis Hall Theatre with a 2 p.m. matinee performance Nov. 16. All performances are open to the public.
“Twelfth Night is one of Shakespeare’s most accessible plays to a general audience who may not be familiar with his work. I think that everyone who attends should be in for an overall fun time at the theatre,” said Casey Wright, a drama major from Oologah, who serves as the publicity/marketing manager for the production.
“The basic idea of Twelfth Night is its light-hearted comedy mix with a good deal of fanciful whimsy and, like many of Shakespeare’s comedies, is centered around a lot of comical misunderstandings and mistaken identities,” Wright said.
“The play centers on the town of Illyria and the love triangle that develops between the shipwrecked Viola, the Duke Orsino and the Lady Olivia. Olivia will not see anyone because she is mourning the death of her brother.
“Viola finds herself in a similar situation as she has been shipwrecked and believes her twin brother to be dead. In order to find work, she disguises herself as a man. She finds work in the household of Orsino and quickly falls in love with the duke. Little does everyone know that Viola’s brother Sebastian is alive and well and about to arrive in the town of Illyria as well,” Wright said.
“One of the most appealing aspects about Shakespeare is that after 500 years each production offers something new to experience – be it good or bad. I think ultimately that is what has always been one of the most enduring aspects of Shakespeare’s work. A person can see a play like Twelfth Night 50 times and leave each time with something new to think about.”
The production includes many USAO students representing nine different majors.
Jeff Gray, a psychology major from Comanche, plays the role of Duke Orsino. Norman drama major Russell Cunningham plays Valentine, an officer and a gentleman. Another officer and gentleman, Curio, is performed by Derrick McCarthur, a drama major from Chickasha.
Oklahoma City music major Mickey DeFord plays the role of Antonio and Brandon Herrera, an undeclared major from Oklahoma City, plays the role of A Sea Captain. Twins Viola and Sebastian are played by Skye Austin, music major from Ardmore and Jerod Frizzell, a music major from Lindsay.
Sir Toby is performed by C.W. Bardsher, a communication major from Duncan and Sir Andrew is played by Adam Bryant, a drama major from Oklahoma City. Butler and malcontent Malvolio is played by Chris Stanford, a drama major from Blackwell. Jessica Lundie, a drama major from Claremore, plays the role of Olivia.
Jessica Ferguson, a drama major from Oklahoma City, plays the role of Maria and Joshua Roosa, a biology major from Del City, plays the role of Servant. Phillip Hill, a drama major from Duncan, performs the role of Fabian; Whitney Whitaker, a drama major from Pauls Valley, plays the role of Feste; and Roderick Kohl, a drama major from Midwest City, plays the role of A Priest.
Understudies for the production include Robert Story, a chemistry major from Amber; Roderick Kohl, a drama major from Midwest City; Derrick McCarthur, a drama major from Chickasha; Joshua Roosa, a biology major from Del City; Andrea Jones, an English major from Chickasha; Paige Simpson, a drama major from Tuttle; and Michelle Bivins, a drama major from Edmond.
Stage manager for the production is Edmond drama major Michelle Bivins. Kasey Sams, an English major from Wetumka and Andrea Jones, an English major from Chickasha, serve as the assistants to the director.