‘Twelfth Night’ to be presented by Penn State Centre Stage

UNIVERSITY PARK —  Although it’s commonly known as “Twelfth Night,” the complete title of Shakespeare’s beloved comedy is “Twelfth Night or What You Will.”

Penn State Centre Stage’s production of “Twelfth Night” opens tonight with a 7:30 p.m. performance at the on-campus Pavilion Theater.  Because of an extended Thanksgiving vacation,  the show does not resume performances until after the holiday break, with remaining 7:30 p.m. shows set for Nov. 29 and 30, and Dec. 1 and 2, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Dec. 2.

Written in the early 1600s, “Twelfth Night” was commissioned as a humorous work to close out the Christmas season. This production is set in 1953 on the rocky coast of Illyria across the Adriatic Sea from Italy.

The play centers upon twins Viola and Sebastian, who are shipwrecked. Believing her brother has drowned, Viola disguises herself as a boy, who falls in love with Duke Orsino, who is in turn in love with Countess Olivia. Upon meeting Viola, who now calls herself Casario, she becomes an object of affection, as Count Orsino falls in love with her (believing she is a man).

In the comic subplot, several characters conspire to make Olivia’s pompous steward believe that Olivia has fallen madly in love with him.

As the Bard so aptly handles in all of his comedies, there is lots of  comical interplay, with deceptions finally revealed and revenge  sworn on the tormentors.

With a cast of undergraduate and graduate students, the PSCS production is directed by Steve Snyder, who readily acknowledges that  “Twelfth Night” is set in a topsy-turvy world full of romantics and eccentrics.

The play expands on the musical interludes associated with the riotous disorder of the occasion. “This show has far more music that the causal theatergoer might imagine,” Snyder said.

With topics of mistaken identity, gender bending and same sex attraction, “Twelfth Night” may raise a few eyebrows, but will certainly raise far more laughs.

Even for the less than avid fans of the Bard, Penn State Centre Stage promises a highly energetic, polished production of “Twelfth Night,” which assuredly the audience will find entertaining.

Prior to  tonight’s opening, director Snyder opined that it is indeed fools who fall in love.

“We still fall in love with the wrong person. We still try to disengage life, or alter how we engage with life when it gets hard. We still need to learn and relearn the need for forgiveness, kindness and mercy. And we still need to laugh at ourselves so we can, indeed, ‘Play On!’ “

For tickets or more information, visit www.theatre.psu.edu.