In today’s Wall Street Journal drama column I review the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s new production of Twelfth Night. Here’s an excerpt.
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With two Broadway successes, “Hand to God” and “Present Laughter,” under his belt, Moritz von Stuelpnagel is now looking like the most talented director of stage comedy to come along since John Rando. So it’s happy news that he’s upped his personal ante by staging “Twelfth Night” for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. It is, after all, a big leap from Noël Coward to Shakespearean comedy, one that many similarly talented directors never attempt. Funny though “Twelfth Night” is, most of the laughs don’t come of their own accord: They need careful, knowing tending in order to explode on schedule. But Mr. von Stuelpnagel knows his comic stuff, and he’s given us a show that’s every bit as enjoyable as its predecessors.
Unlike most modern-day Shakespeare directors, Mr. von Stuelpnagel has chosen not to overlay his “Twelfth Night” with a high concept: It’s a colorfully stylized modern-dress staging, but otherwise the show keeps to the center of the theatrical road. The cast is mostly young, and the actors themselves perform Palmer Hefferan’s incidental music in a cheerfully rough-and-ready manner….
Hudson Valley always has fine clowns on tap, and Kurt Rhoads and Sean McNall, who play Toby Belch and Andrew Aguecheek, set the tone for the show, with the emphasis placed squarely on broad, bawdy comedy. (Without getting too graphic for the readers of a family paper, suffice it to say that Sir Toby appears to be suffering from a fairly severe case of prostate trouble.) Anyone seeking temporary surcease from the rigors of the present moment will find it in abundance here….
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Read the whole thing here.
The trailer for Twelfth Night: