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Published: Thursday, 2/1/2007

Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' fast forwards to 1960s

William Shakespeare wrote his comedy Twelfth Night in 1601. For its production, Ohio Northern University's theater department moves the action forward more than 3 1/2 centuries.

"Joan Robbins, the resident dramaturge of the Freed, decided to set it in the late 1960s," said Catriona Macphie, managing director of the Freed Center for the Performing Arts.

John Stone's set comprises an enormous guitar, and Chicago-based composer Jon Negus wrote a 1960s-inspired score for the show, she said.

Twelfth Night is one of those comedies of error, in which people disguise themselves as other people and everyone falls in love with people who are not themselves.

Key characters are Orsino, the duke of Illyria, who woos Olivia, a rich countess who has vowed to mourn her dead brother for seven years. Also in mourning is Viola, who believes her twin brother, Sebastian, has been lost at sea.

Serving Olivia are the very proper, very stuffy Malvolio and the clown Feste, who acts as sort of a narrator. Sir Andrew Aguecheek is a guest in the home of Olivia, and Sir Toby Belch is her uncle, a prankster who targets Malvolio and his pomposity.

Robert Behrens, an Equity actor who is an assistant professor of communication arts at ONU, plays Sir Toby; the rest of the cast comprises students from freshmen to seniors.

"We've decided to do this on the larger main stage," Macphie said, which means the students have to work on their projection, clarity, and articulation because they don't use body microphones.

"They've been working on it since the beginning of December," Macphie said.

A discussion of Shakespeare's work and the current production will precede the show's opening at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday.

Ohio Northern University opens William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" Wednesday in the Freed Center for the Performing Arts, 525 South Main St., Ada. Performances are at 8 p.m. Feb. 7-10 and 2 p.m. Feb. 11. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and ONU students, and $9 for children. Information: 419-772-1900.

•Mame is the winter production of the Waterville Playshop. The Jerry Herman musical written by Patrick Dennis about his eccentric aunt opened on Broadway in 1966 and earned three Tony Awards, including one for leading lady Angela Lansbury.

Sam Macera directs the Waterville Playshop production, Pam Martin is the musical director, and Deborah Tell developed the choreography.

Cast members include Suzy Hanifan as Mame, Anna Francis as Vera, Derek Kastner as young Patrick, Ben McGilvery as older Patrick, Kris Frederickson as Agnes Gooch, Steve Horvath as Ito, Joel Kirkwood as Beauregard, Spencer Rife as Gloria Upson, Allie Myers as Pegeen, Roy Heinz as Lindsay Woolsey, and Dan Dietzer as Dwight Babcock.

Waterville Playshop's production of Mame is scheduled at 8 p.m. today-Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in the auditorium of Anthony Wayne High School, 5967 Finzel Rd., Whitehouse. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and $5 for children. Information: 419-470-2730 or www.watervilleplayshop.org.

•The Broadway in Lima series continues with Man of La Mancha, the five-time Tony Award-winning musical based on Miguel de Cervantes' 17th-century novels about Don Quixote de La Mancha.

The production is scheduled at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Crouse Performance Hall of the Veterans Memorial Civic & Convention Center, 7 Town Sq., Lima. Tickets are $45. Information: 419-224-1552 or 1-888-377-0641.

- Nanciann Cherry

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