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Reviewed by:
  • Twelfth Night, and: Troilus and Cressida, and: Richard III
  • Justin Shaltz
Twelfth Night Presented by American Players Theatre, Spring Green, Wisconsin. June 16–October 7, 2012. Directed by David Frank. Costumes and set by Robert Morgan. Lights by Michael A. Peterson. Sound and Original Music by Sarah Pickett. With Sarah Pickett (Musician), Marcus Truschinski (Orsino), Cristina Panfilio (Viola), Susan Shunk (Olivia), Brian Mani (Toby), Greta Wohlrabe (Maria), Mark Goetzinger (Andrew), John Taylor Phillips (Feste), La Shawn Banks (Malvolio), Eric Parks (Antonio), and Samuel Ashdown (Sebastian).
Troilus and Cressida Presented by American Players Theatre, Spring Green, Wisconsin. August 18–October 5, 2012. Directed by William Brown. Costumes by Rachel Anne Healy. Set by Kevin Depinet. Lights by Michael A. Peterson. Sound and Original Music by Andrew Hansen. With Marcus Truschinski (Hector), Nate Burger (Troilus), Michael Perez (Paris), Greta Wohlrabe (Cassandra), Jim DeVita (Pandarus), Laura Rook (Cressida), Nathan Hosner (Agamemnon), Jonathan Smoots (Ulysses), Eric Parks (Achilles), Samuel Ashdown (Patroclus), Michael Huftile (Ajax), Travis A. Knight (Diomedes), La Shawn Banks (Thersites), and Ally Carey (Helen).
Richard III Presented by American Players Theatre, Spring Green, Wisconsin. June 30–September 28, 2012. Directed by James DeVita. Costumes by Rachel Anne Healy. Set by Takeshi Kata. Lights by Michael A. Peterson. Sound and Original Music by Josh Schmidt. With Sarah Day (Duchess), Michael Huftile (King Edward), John Taylor Phillips (Clarence), James Ridge (Richard), Colleen Madden (Elizabeth), David Daniel (Buckingham), Steve Haggard (Hastings), Nate Burger (Catesby), Eric Parks (Ratcliff), and Travis A. Knight (Richmond).

American Players Theatre’s 2012 season included three Shakespeare productions among the five staged at the Up The Hill theatre, an outdoor 1147-seat space reached via a winding hike up a gravel trail in the southern Wisconsin woods. The theatre also offered a shuttle bus, and amid the usual swaying trees and occasional swooping bat, David Frank directed the season centerpiece Twelfth Night with flair, although for the most part the production followed the text and featured standard Elizabethan set and costumes: black boots, ruff collars, and swords, as well as dead leaves, dark burnished metal, and doors and gates topped with spikes. Frank added a strolling musician, composer Sarah Pickett with [End Page 634] recorder and flute to play a live musical score, and he spiced up some of the supporting characters: the bald-headed Feste was less a playful jester than an angry-eyed critic with a waspish tongue and a dangerous menace; and the long-haired Antonio was a moon-eyed pirate with an unrequited gay crush on the shipwrecked Sebastian.

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Fig. 21.

Cristina Panfilio and Marcus Truschinski in American Players Theatre’s 2012 production of Twelfth Night, directed by David Frank. Photo courtesy of Zane Williams.

Most interesting was La Shawn Banks, an African-American actor, adding a racially provocative element to the outsider Malvolio. The dark-skinned Puritan, set apart and reviled, resorted to haughty anger to take his revenge. During the opening funeral of Olivia’s brother, with its somber march of black-clad mourners, there was slow, sad music from Pickett that became slower and sadder with a clap of the hands from Banks’s disapproving Malvolio. Banks just about stole the show, prancing in angrily to scold the drunken singing trio—and scaring away Pickett, who fled upstage—or boasting of his potential advancement—rare for “one of my complexion”—then pulling wax from the bogus letter with a high-pitched squeal. Banks’s Malvolio indeed seemed possessed during his humiliation in 3.4, giving Olivia a showy knowing wink, limping from the tightness of his garters, and thrusting suddenly toward her to display his yellow stockings. [End Page 635]

While Brian Mani’s belching Sir Toby impressed in his whacked-out gray afro and goatee, delivering lines with a Tim Curry-like sneer and leer, swaggering and staggering like Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow, Cristina Panfilio’s Viola anchored the production. Panfilio’s Viola still seemed feminine as “Cesario” in cute-cropped strawberry blonde hair, and she wore a light green suit–like her survivor brother, Sebastian—so the two were a splash of color in dour Illyria. Panfilio’s Cesario was impassioned...


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