A comedic feast of lovers and fools in Twelfth Night at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Tina Slak, 610.282.WILL [9455], ext. 4
June 19, 2018
Tina.Slak@PaShakespeare.org

Wit, music, and romance are the food of love in Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s production of Twelfth Night, opening Saturday June 23 in the intimate Schubert Theatre at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University.

Welcome to Shakespeare’s magical land of Illyria—Viola (Victoria Janicki) and her twin brother are shipwrecked, each believing the other drowned. Disguised as a young man, and entering the service of lovesick Duke Orsino (Akeem Davis), Viola woos the aristocrat Olivia (Eleanor Handley) for her new master and finds herself in a most unusual and hilarious love triangle.

Merry deceptions abound when pompous steward Malvolio (Greg Wood) is victim to a practical joke that persuades him he is beloved by his employer, Olivia. The prankster threesome who perpetrate the hoax are witty serving woman Maria, comic drunkard Sir Toby Belch, and the overzealous Sir Andrew Aguecheck (Suzanne O’Donnell, Scott Greer, and Alex Bechtel). The clown fool Feste (Eric Hissom) wistfully plays and sings as the commentator throughout the comedic feast, until true love finds its way.

Victoria Janicki makes her PSF debut as Shakespeare’s radiant heroine Viola. Janicki comes direct to PSF following her run as Joan in the National Tour of the Tony Award-winning musical Fun Home. Prior to the Broadway tour she played the role of Gwen in The Royal Family at The Guthrie Theatre. Other credits include guest-starring roles on the hit television series The Blacklist and Elementary.

The cast is comprised of several Festival veterans with numerous PSF credits, including: Akeem Davis (PSF: Love’s Labour’s Lost and Henry V); Scott Greer (The Two Gentlemen of Verona and A Midsummer Night’s Dream); Eleanor Handley (PSF recents: Blithe Spirit, The Taming of the Shrew, and Lend Me a Tenor);Eric Hissom (recent: Troilus and Cressida, The Taming of the Shrew, and Pericles); Suzanne O’Donnell (some credits include: Pericles, Macbeth, and Lend Me a Tenor); and Greg Wood (recents: Troilus and Cressida, Hound of the Baskervilles, and Julius Caesar).

Director Matt Pfeiffer returns to the Festival for his 20th season. Recent PSF directing credits include As You Like It (2017), The Taming of the Shrew (2016), and Henry V (2015).

Pfeiffer is one of Philadelphia’s leading directors and is a 12-time Barrymore nominee, and two-time winner for his direction of The Whale and The Invisible Hand (Theatre Exile). He’s also a recipient of the F. Otto Haas Award. Other theatre credits include: Orlando Shakespeare Theater, InterAct Theatre, Walnut Street Theatre, and Lantern Theatre. He is a 1999 graduate of the theatre program at DeSales University (then Allentown College).

Twelfth Night will feature a wide range of original music composed by Barrymore Award-winning actor and composer Alex Bechtel, who also composed music for PSF’s The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, Henry V, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. In addition to composing for Twelfth Night, Bechtel will play the role of the Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

The creative team for Twelfth Night also includes Steve TenEyck as scenic and lighting designer, Olivera Gajic as costume designer, and J. Alex Cordaro as Fight Director. Maggie Davis is the production stage manager and Esti Bernstein is the assistant stage manager.

All performances will be held in the intimate Schubert Theatre. For tickets call the box office at 610.282.WILL [9455] or online at www.pashakespeare.org.

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s 27th summer season includes the epic musical Ragtime (now through July 1), and features William Shakespeare’s King Richard II playing in repertory, with the same cast alternating performances daily and often on the same day, with the play Shakespeare in Love, based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard; and an actor-driven production of Shakespeare’s spirited and bittersweet comedy All’s Well That Ends Well.
The season will run now through August 5 at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the bucolic Center Valley campus of DeSales University.

Children’s programming includes Alice in Wonderland, now through August 4. Celebrating its ten-year anniversary is PSF’s Shakespeare for Kids, a one-hour production designed for pre-school and elementary age students to actively experience Shakespeare’s vibrant language and characters. On the Main Stage: July 25 through August 4.

One-night-only events include The Great Divorce, back by popular demand. Actor and Festival favorite Anthony Lawton delivers an allegorical journey that weaves philosophical imaginings with theatrical magic on Monday, June 25 at 7:30pm; as well as Dan Domenech – Bootleg Famous: To Broadway and Beyond, with the star of last summer’s hit, Evita. Dan Domenech returns to PSF with songs and stories from his 16-year career spanning Broadway, world tours, and unintentional internet theater fame on Monday, July 30 at 7:30pm.

The 2018 Festival Season Sponsors are Keith and Stefanie Wexler. The Associate Season Sponsors are Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan, The Szarko Family, and Harry C. Trexler Trust. The Production Sponsor for Twelfth Night is DeSales University, sponsored in memory of Fr. Gerard J. Schubert, OSFS, by a grateful DeSales University Community.

New subscriptions and single tickets are now on sale at: www.pashakespeare.org or by calling the box office at 610.282.WILL [9455].

Summer 2018 Season:

Main Stage: Ragtime (June 13 to July 1), Shakespeare in Love (July 11 to Aug 5), King Richard II (July 19 to Aug 5), Shakespeare for Kids (July 25 to Aug 4).

Schubert Theatre: Alice in Wonderland (June 1 to Aug 4), Twelfth Night  (June 21 to July 15), All’s Well That Ends Well (July 25 to Aug 5).

Media contacts: for interviews and photos, please contact Tina Slak at Tina.Slak@pashakespeare.org.

CAST (*Member of Actors’ Equity Association):

ALEX BECHTEL* (Music Director, Composer, Sound Designer, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Twelfth Night) is a Philadelphia-based actor, composer, sound designer, writer, director, teaching artist, and multi-instrumentalist. Barrymore Awards for Outstanding Original Music and Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical for Arden Theatre Company’s production of The Light Princess, and Outstanding Music Direction for his work on Walnut Street Theatre’s production of My Way. Bechtel is the creator/composer of The West, Philadelphia Nocturne, and Cheer Up, Dostoevsky.

AKEEM DAVIS* (Duke Orsino, Twelfth Night; 2nd Lord Dumaine, All’s Well) is from Miami, Fl, and is an alum of Norland Middle School. Akeem is returning to PSF after Henry V (2015) and Love’s Labour’s Lost (2016). Regional: A Doll’s House (Arden Theatre), The Arsonists (Woolly Mammoth Theatre), District Merchants (Folger Theatre,Helen Hayes Nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play), All My Sons (People’s Light), Lobby Hero, In The Blood (Theatre Horizon), The Dangerous House of Pretty M’bane, Marcus/Emma (InterAct Theatre), Buzzer (Theatre Exile), Henry VRomeo and Juliet (Philadelphia Shakespeare Company)The Brothers Size (Simpatico Theatre Project). A five time Barrymore Award nominated actor and recipient of the 2015 F. Otto Haas Award for Emerging Philadelphia Theatre Artist.

SCOTT GREER* (Sir Toby Belch, Twelfth Night) having last appeared as Launce in The Two Gentlemen of Verona and in Midsummer  at PSF in 2009. He is a 25 year veteran of Philadelphia theatre, and has worked for 1812, Arden, Walnut, InterAct, PTC, Wilma, People’s Light, Theatre Exile, Lantern Theatre and many more. Regionally, he has worked for Actors Theatre of Louisville, Round House, Cape May Stage, and the Pearl Theatre in New York. He has won five Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre including the prestigious F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Theatre Artist. He was named 2014’s “Best Theatre Talent” by Philadelphia Magazine.

ELEANOR HANDLEY* (Olivia, Twelfth Night) PSF credits: The Taming of the Shrew (Katherina), Blithe Spirit (Elvira), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Maggie), Much Ado About Nothing (Beatrice), Lend Me a Tenor (Diana), Macbeth (Witch), Comedy of Errors (Adriana) and The Two Noble Kinsman (Emilia); NYC: Jericho (NYT Critic’s Pick), Limonade tous les Jours (opposite Austin Pendleton), A Christmas Carol (with Dominic Chianese); Regional highlights: Troilus & Cressida (Cressida), King Lear (Regan), Lost in Yonkers (Bella, Barrymore Nomination), Betrayal (Emma), Witness for the Prosecution (Barrymore Nomination), Time Stands Still; TV: Royal Pains, As the World Turns, and Unforgettable.

ERIC HISSOM* (Feste, Twelfth Night; Lavatch, All’s Well) has appeared at PSF in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, A Man for All Seasons, The Tempest, Around the World in Eighty Days, Pericles, The Taming of the Shrew, King John, and Troilus and Cressida. Recent regional credits: The Winter’s Tale at the Folger, Born Yesterday and The Great Society at Asolo Rep, Equivocation at the Arden, Everything is Illuminated at Theater J and The Effect at Studio Theater both in Washington D.C., and the National Tour of The 39 Steps. He has an MFA from Florida State University’s Asolo Conservatory.

VICTORIA JANICKI* (Viola, Twelfth Night; Helena, All’s Well) Theater: Back To The Real (Katrina- Crossroads Theatre Company); Fun Home (Joan- National Broadway Tour); The Royal Family (Gwen Cavendish- The Guthrie Theater); Otherland (Alice Holmes- Gingold Theatrical Group); Comedy of Errors (Luciana- Allentown Shakespeare Festival); Julius Caesar (Cassius- Rutgers Theater Company); Julius Caesar (Brutus- Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre). TV: The Blacklist (Isabella Zuma- NBC); Elementary (Phoebe Elliott- CBS). Film: Palimpest (Auditory Productions); Then She Comes In & Bars (NYU Productions). Education: BFA Mason Gross School of the Arts and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

SUZANNE O’DONNELL* (Maria, Twelfth Night) PSF credits: Mistress Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Maria in Lend Me a Tenor, and Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Earnest; Orlando Shakespeare Theater: Hermione in The Winter’s Tale, Emilia in Othello, Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, and Kate in The Taming of the Shrew; Boston Marriage (1812 Productions); Comedy of Errors, Arcadia (Folger Theatre); Romeo and Juliet, Dancing at Lughnasa (Arden Theatre). Suzanne is a graduate of DeSales University.

GREG WOOD* (Malvolio, Twelfth Night; King of France, All’s Well) This past Fall, he was at Actors Theatre Louisville to play Van Helsing in their production of Dracula. In December he was at McCarter Theatre in Princeton for his second season as Scrooge in  A Christmas Carol. He just finished back to back productions at the Walnut St. Theatre in Philly:  Eric in The Humans, followed by Lloyd in Noises Off.

CREATIVE:          
PATRICK MULCAHY (Director, Shake in Love; Producing Artistic Director, PSF) Since assuming leadership in 2003, Mulcahy has led PSF’s surge in artistic excellence, financial stability, and national recognition. Accomplishments include first-ever grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, attracting a multitude of award-winning artists including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Barrymore, and Emmy awards, a 75% increase in annual attendance, a successful campaign to double the Festival’s endowment, and the expansion of the number of Actors’ Equity contracts per season. He led the strategic planning process that led to PSF’s Vision 2030, a commitment to world-class professional theatre, and coverage in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Washington Post. As a professional director, actor, and fight director, credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theatre, television and radio. Mr. Mulcahy has acted with many industry luminaries including Don Cheadle, Angela Bassett, Cynthia Nixon, and Tony Shaloub at the New York Shakespeare Festival, The Roundabout Theatre, Hartford Stage, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, and the Walnut Street Theatre.  He served as fight director for A Few Good Men on Broadway, and multiple Off-Broadway productions starring Marcia Gay Harden, John Mahoney, Patrick Dempsey, and John Savage.  He directed Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga in The Real Thing, and, for PSF, directed The Winter’s Tale, Henry IV, Part 1, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, Macbeth and Julius Caesar. Also Head of Acting at DeSales, Patrick holds degrees in acting and directing from Syracuse University.

MATT PFEIFFER (Director, Twelfth Night and S4K) is a Philly born actor and director. Festival credits include: As You Like It, Henry V, The Taming of the Shrew, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona; Recent credits include: A Midsummer Nights Dream (Arden Theatre), Camelot (Act 2 Playhouse)Buzzer (Theatre Exile) Heisenberg (Delaware Theatre Co) and Blackbird (Fulton Theatre); Other Credits: Philadelphia Theatre Co., InterAct Theatre, Walnut St. Theatre, 1812 Productions, Lantern Theatre, Gulfshore Playhouse, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, UArts, UPenn’s Mask and Wig, and Villanova University. Matt is a twelve-time Barrymore nominee and winner, for his direction of The Whale and The Invisible Hand  both with Theatre Exile. He’s also a recipient of the F. Otto Haas Award. Matt is a graduate of DeSales University.

STEVE TENEYCK (Scenic Designer, Ragtime; Scenic and Lighting Designer, Twelfth Night and Alice) Design work: Dallas Theatre Center, Gulfshore Playhouse, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Syracuse Stage, TACT NYC, Big Art Group, Tri-Cities Opera, Madison Opera, Syracuse Opera, Anchorage Opera, Minnesota Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Mill City Summer Opera, The Kitchen Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and The Hangar Theatre. Steve is a member of United Scenic Artists Local 829 and teaches design at Ithaca College in New York.

OLIVERA GAJIC (Costume Designer, Twelfth Night and Richard II) was featured in the US National Exhibit at the 2004 & 2007 Prague Quadrennial; Curtain Call: Celebrating a Century of Women Designing for Live Performance (Lincoln Center). She is the recipient of a NEA-TCG Design Award, IT Award, TDF/Irene Sharaff Young Master Award, Barrymore Award and Bessie Award for Outstanding Visual Design. Olivera has 150+ theater, opera, dance and film productions to her credit. She extensively designs at the esteemed Juilliard School, Trinity Rep, and Arden. At PSF she designed The Little Mermaid and The Taming of the Shrew.

ALEX BECHTEL* (Music Director, Composer, Sound Designer, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Twelfth Night) is a Philadelphia-based actor, composer, sound designer, writer, director, teaching artist, and multi-instrumentalist. Barrymore Awards for Outstanding Original Music and Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical for Arden Theatre Company’s production of The Light Princess, and Outstanding Music Direction for his work on Walnut Street Theatre’s production of My Way. Bechtel is the creator/composer of The West, Philadelphia Nocturne, and Cheer Up, Dostoevsky.

J. ALEX CORDARO (Fight Director, Ragtime, Twelfth Night, and Richard II) PSF credits: Caesar, Henry V, Fiddler, As You Like It, Othello, and Shrew; Regional credits include: McCarter, Wilma, The Actors Theatre, Arden Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, PSF, Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival, The Lantern, Theatre Exile, Inis Nua, Philadelphia Artists Collective, Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia Opera Company, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. Alex is a Certified Teacher and Theatrical Firearms Safety Instructor with the Society of American Fight Directors.

MAGGIE DAVIS* (Production Stage Manager, Twelfth Night, All’s Well) Her stage and production management credits include Julius Caesar; The Wild Duck (Quintessence Theatre Group); Yours, Anne, among many others (Half Moon Theatre); seven seasons with the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival; Christmas Rappings (Judson Memorial Church); Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Florida/Texas Tour); Mike Birbiglia’s My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, Tribes, and Hit the Wall (Barrow Street Theatre); Emotional Creature (Signature Center); Becoming Dr. Ruth (Westside Theatre); Measure for Measure (Fiasco/New Victory Theater).

ESTI BERNSTEIN* (Assistant Stage Manager, Twelfth Night, All’s Well) is a NYC-based Stage Manager and Production Manager. Recent Off-Broadway credits: The Beast in the Jungle (Vineyard Theatre), Party Face (MTC Stage II), The Stone Witch (Westside Theater), and Later Life (Keen Company). She is also Resident Stage Manager for Broken Box Mime Theater and was on staff at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival summers 2011-2015

About Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy, is the only professional Equity theatre of its scope and scale within a 50-mile radius. PSF is one of only a handful of theatres on the continent producing Shakespeare, musicals, classics, and contemporary plays, all of which can all be seen in rep and in multiple spaces within a few visits in a single summer season. Similarly, PSF will be among just a handful of theatres on the continent this summer to produce three Shakespeare plays in a single summer season.  A patron would have to travel seven to nine hours from PSF to find a comparable range of offerings at a single theatre within a few weeks’ time.

The Festival’s award-winning company of many world-class artists includes Broadway, film, and television veterans, and winners and nominees of the Tony, Emmy, Obie, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Jefferson, Hayes, Lortel, and Barrymore awards. A leading Shakespeare theatre with a national reputation for excellence, PSF has received coverage in The Washington Post, NPR, American Theatre Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and in recent seasons The New York Times has identified PSF as one of the leading summer theatre festivals in the nation. “A world-class theater experience on a par with the top Bard fests,” is how one New York Drama Desk reviewer characterized PSF.

Founded in 1992 and the Official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, PSF’s mission is to enrich, inspire, engage, and entertain the widest possible audience through first-rate productions of classical and contemporary plays, with a core commitment to Shakespeare and other master dramatists, and through an array of education and mentorship programs. A not-for-profit theatre, PSF receives significant support from its host, DeSales University, from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. With 150 performances of seven productions, the Festival attracts patrons each summer from 30+ states. In 26 years, PSF has offered 161 total productions (69 Shakespeare), and entertained 900,000+ patrons from 50 states, now averaging 38,000+ in attendance each summer season, plus another 14,000 students each year through its WillPower Tour. PSF is a multi-year recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts: Shakespeare in American Communities, and is a constituent of Theatre Communications Group, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and the Shakespeare Theatre Association. In 2013, leaders of the world’s premier Shakespeare theatres gathered at PSF as the Festival hosted the international STA Conference.

The Festival’s vision is for world-class work.
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