Twelfth Night Opens 2019 Colorado Shakespeare Festival

The 62nd season of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival runs on (mostly) weekends from June 7 to August 11, 2019.

Twelfth Night opened on June 7, in the outdoor Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre on the grounds of University of Colorado, Boulder (CU).

Duke Orsino having a party, before the start of the play

The members of Duke Orsino’s household drift on stage for some dancing before the storm arrives that will shipwreck Viola and Sebastian and start the play

The Plot

A ship off the coast of Illyria founders in a storm.  Young Viola (Amber Scales) and the captain of the wrecked ship (Mark Collins) manage to make it to shore near the estate of Duke Orsino.

Viola, grieving over her twin brother, Sebastian, whom she thinks has drowned, borrows the sailor’s jerkin so that she may masquerade as a boy, Cesario, to earn her living in this new land.

She enters the service of Duke Orsino (Marco Robinson), who is so impressed with her (or rather “his”) wittiness that he sends this new servant to woo for him the recently bereaved Countess Olivia, a lady who lives at a wealthy estate nearby.

Olivia (Jessica Robbles), not only mourning the death of her husband but also her brother, has vowed to grieve for them for seven years,  and the Duke’s protestations of love merely bore her. But when the persistent Cesario is at last admitted to her presence, Olivia suddenly falls head-over-heels in love.

Also in Olivia’s household is her uncle, Toby Belch (Robert Sicular), and Belch’s friend the lackwit Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Rodney Lizcano), who also intends to woo Olivia. Olivia’s steward, Malvolio (Gareth Saxe), thinks very little of Belch, Aguecheek, or Olivia’s serving gentlewoman Maria (Emma Messenger), for they gorge themselves on cakes and ale and revel all the night long, and those three reciprocate his contempt.

Viola’s twin brother Sebastian (Dante Rossi) has survived the shipwreck – with the assistance of sea captain Antonia (Madison Hart) – and arrives in Illyria also. He is clad in sailor’s gear, too, and begins to meet people who seem to already know him…

The Production

Malvolio shades Olivia from the sun while Toby Belch ponders from which bottle he has stashed around the room he should drink

Malvolio (Gareth Saxe) shades Olivia (Jessica Robblee) from the sun while Toby Belch ponders from which bottle he has stashed around the room he should drink. Photo courtesy Colorado Shakespeare Festival

The Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s Twelfth Night is a delight from beginning to end. The simple set, painted a dark blue, begins to shine as evening darkens the skies and stars begin to glow in the walls.

The melancholy Feste (Rindo Eckert), jester in Olivia’s household, begins by serenading the gathered throng (i.e. we the audience) with an accordion. Indeed, Eckert proves himself a master of many musical instruments throughout the evening.

Marco Robinson initially plays Duke Orsino as somewhat of a “silly ass” character – so intent is he on wooing Olivia by proxy even though she scorns him. He and Amber Scales as Viola have a fine chemistry together as the Duke finds himself somewhat attracted to the charismatic ‘Cesario.’

Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Rodney Lizcano) challenges Cesario/Viola (Amber Scales) to a duel as Toby Belch (Robert Sicular) and Fabian (Rakeem Lawrence) look on. Photo courtesy Colorado Shakespeare Festival

Jessica Robblee is hilarious as Olivia, the countess who develops a sudden, overmastering passion for the young Cesario, who desperately tries to discourage her advances. The audience may be surprised at just how sudden her love is, but hey, that’s Shakespearen romantic comedy for you.

Malvolio is played to perfection by Gareth Saxe. In contrast with the wastrel Toby Belch, he is a model citizen, and hardly deserves the cruel trick that Belch, Aguecheek and Maria play on him. Well…the yellow stockings with cross-garters scene is hilarious (staged beautifully, too), but then they take it a bit too far.

Rodney Lizcano steals every scene he’s in as the drunken Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Dante Rossi as Sebastian doesn’t get much stage time, nor is his a flashy role, but we find ourselves rooting for him to get the girl nevertheless. His rescuer from the ocean deep, Antonio, has been turned into a woman for this production (Antonia), and Madison Hart has a fine time as the ever-prepared sea captain with not only several swords but also a brace of pistols ready for action.

The company, directed by Timothy Orr, works well together – there is never a false note. As the opening production of a season that is devoted to love in all its aspects, Twelfth Night could hardly be bettered.

As You Like It will have its opening on June 21, Romeo and Juliet on July 7, and the “future history” play King Charles III – written by Mike Bartlett in Shakespearean prose, on July 19.


Marco Robinson as Duke Orsino and Cesario/Viola (Amber Scales) are amused by Feste (Rinde Eckert). Photo courtesy Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

Where to Park

The best place to park is in  the Euclid Parking Garage at 1725 Euclid Avenue. It costs a minimum of $3.20 to park there, depending on if you come early to explore the nearby shops or restaurants. Both the outdoor and indoor theatres used by the Colorado Shakespeare Theatre are within a block of the parking garage.

There are other parking spaces scattered throughout the area. The parking kiosks take credit cards. All you need to do is enter your license plate number, then type in how many hours you intend to be in that space, and input your credit card number.

Olivia (Jessica Robblee) makes protestations of love to he bewildered Sebastian (Dante Rossi)

Olivia (Jessica Robblee) makes protestations of love to he bewildered Sebastian (Dante Rossi)

This entry was posted in Colorado, Reviews, Shakespeare, Theatre and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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