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Shalhevet news online: When we know it, you'll know it

The Boiling Point

Shalhevet news online: When we know it, you'll know it

The Boiling Point

Shalhevet news online: When we know it, you'll know it

The Boiling Point

Drama’s ‘Twelfth Night’: A masterful comedic fracas graced with song

TUMULT: Mati Davis moon-walked and Eric Lunzer danced the korobushka in Drama’s mainstage production last month.

On the sixth night of Chanukah, my true love (not really because I don’t have one, so roll with me people) gave to me a comedy awash in gender-bending hijinks. In its fall main stage production, which ran through Dec. 20, Shalhevet’s Drama Department explored Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and the results were wonderful.  Sets, costumes, lighting, music and deft acting were brilliantly displayed on opening night as the ensemble cast entertained.

In a plot loaded with cross-dressing confusion and even a subtle undercurrent of bisexual desire, the wonderful acting abilities of many students sparkled. Act I opened with Rachel Friedman’s character washing ashore on a foreign land.  She introduced herself to the audience as Viola, concerned that her twin brother Sebastian had perished in the storm that brought her there. Fearing for her safety as a woman alone, Viola disguises herself as male and is immediately employed by the nobleman Orsino, played by David Lorell and his perfectly coiffed mane.   And this is where the comedy begins.

Immediately Orsino tells Viola — now known as Cesario — that he is in love with a lovely noblewoman named Olivia, played by Brianna Marshak.  Olivia however does not love him, and as a dutiful assistant, Cesario must  convince Lady Olivia to return his employer Orsino’s affection.

Just as the audience became familiar with the plot, there was a break for comedic relief.  Enter a quad of tumult tinkerers: Mati Davis as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Eric Lunzer as Sir Toby Belch, Rose Bern as Maria, and Zev Frankel as Fabian. This hilariously loving group created an immediate rapport with the audience. They never dropped the ball on Shakespeare’s marvelous wordsmithing, and the audience loved them.

Rose Bern delivered each of her lines with a sparkle in her eye and a lighthearted verve. Zev Frankel could not contain his laughter as Eric Lunzer danced the korubushka, while Mati Davis channeled Michael Jackson when he attempted the moonwalk.  How much more endearing could a group of actors have been?

The production got even better when senior Leah Glouberman, playing Feste the Court Jester, appeared onstage. Thanks to the school’s new policy on kol isha, the Jewish precept which previously had been interpreted to bar female soloists (in order to prevent men from hearing women singing), the Drama department this year for the first time could showcase a female soloist. Leah has an exceptional voice and stage presence and this year’s audience had the opportunity to hear her. The only problem with Leah is that she hasn’t joined the Shalhevet Choir or the Shalhevet Band.

In addition to Leah’s performance, the cast presented a handful of other songs. Brianna Marshak and Rachel Friedman performed a beautiful faint duet called “Full Fathom Five,” followed by a song sung by David Lorell, Leah Glouberman, and Rachel Friedman, who performed a thought-provoking piece in which Rachel, as Viola, was singing to David, as Orsino, who in turn was singing to Brianna, as Olivia.  To end off the play, the whole cast joined together and sang a final song.

And now back to the fracas.  As soon as Ceasario visits Lady Olivia to direct her love towards Orsino, wouldn’t you know it, Lady Olivia falls fast in love with Ceasario who is really Viola!  Oy vey — is this Gossip Girl or a play written in the 16th century?   Lady Olivia showers Caesario-Viola with nuanced lovelorn glances.  In the meantime the head servant Malvolio, played by Annie Asch (but no gender bending intended; Shalhevet is just short on male thespians), begins to fall in love with Olivia, the countess.  Shakespeare does not complete the love triangle and reveal whether Ceasario is in love with his/her employer Orsino. But he does leave you wondering.

After a short while of confusion regarding who’s who and who loves who, the connections between everyone unravel at the end of the play in the span of a couple of minutes. After everyone finds his or her true love, the cast engages in a very delightful song and dance. This allows for the audience members to reach their “aha” moment as all the plot twists unscramble, while the cast has an incredible amount of fun.

The tech crew for this production, sophomore Rena Katzovitz and alumna Rebecca Asch ‘11, along with backstage manager senior Marcella Bijou, deserve praise for the countless hours they put in creating seamless scene transitions and wonderful sound effects.

Although many teenagers find Shakespeare inaccessible, Ms. Chase said she wanted to make it possible for everyone to appreciate this play. She succeeded, and Shalhevet’s production of Twelfth Night was nothing short of a masterpiece.

RELATED: Shakespeare you can love: Drama prepares ‘Twelfth Night’  

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