Last night, I went with Meredith and Katie out to dinner (more on that later) and to see Twelfth Night presented by the New York Neo-Classical Ensemble, mostly because our friend/Katie's boyfriend was in it, but also because several other ETW refugees popped up in various parts. It was presented with a "distinctly rock-and-roll, youthful twist" (or so it says on their website) and I was looking forward to the music by Matt Berger, because hey, he's pretty nifty.
I've seen many productions of Twelfth Night over the years, mostly done by children's theatre companies, but also one memorable production set on a cruise ship in the 1920's with Gershwin songs interspersed with the plot. This is a show that lends itself to musical numbers very easily, like the script says, "if music be the food of love, play on" and all that. The music in this production didn't disappoint me, it was lively and melodic and who doesn't love a show with a live band (actually, I don't always like that, but that's because I'm secretly old and sometimes I don't like loud noises)?
There were also some great humorous moments throughout the show (thank goodness, it is a comedy after all). I especially liked Bill Griffin as Malvolio. He made some specific vocal choices (which was lacking from some of the other cast members) and I laughed pretty much every time he came onstage. The clowns were also very enjoyable (Matt Berger, Cale Krise and Brandon Uranowitz as Feste). They had some great musical numbers and had great energy throughout the show. The "letter scene" between them and Malvolio was my favorite of the night.
Although I enjoyed the songs, I felt that they could have taken the "rock and roll" concept further. The costumes suggested a time period, but not much else tried to veer away from the classic story - the characters are still at sea and later in Illyria. The time and place seemed ambiguous to me - I wanted more of the "rock and roll" concept in the actual story. Where else could this have taken place, I imagined as I watched the show. At a rock concert? In the East Village? Isn't that why people do Shakespeare, to put their own stamp on it and show how the stories can hold up across the centuries?
The show is running through the weekend, you can purchase tickets here. Oh and one more thing - the show is at The Wild Project - a green space in the East Village run (partially? fully? I'm not sure) on solar power. I thought that was pretty cool.