Shakespeare vs. Santa and Persian King

Seven Princesses Tell Arabian Tales

Significant fun vs. silly fun? That doesn’t quite dichotomize the two openings, Twelfth Night, the Brigit St. Brigit’s Shakespearean play at the Joslyn Castle, and the Blue Barn’s annual holiday sendup, Who Killed Santa?

There’s also humor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where Mirror of the Invisible World, adapted from an ancient epic, has at least one point in common with the Brigit comedy. UNO’s set and lighting designer Steven L. Williams has created a Persian setting of stunning beauty, especially thanks to an illuminated silken canopy that drapes over his representation of the king’s palaces where he separately houses seven princesses from distant lands.

Brigit doesn’t need a set design because the time-honored work of the architect who created the Castle’s wood-paneled music room gives them another beautiful setting for the second play of their 20th anniversary season. It opened Monday with a Cathy Kurz-directed cast featuring Kevin Barratt as Count Orsino, Ashley Spessard as Viola, Katlynn Yost as Olivia, and Thomas Becker as the foolish Malvolio.

Keep a close eye on the unusual schedule for Twelfth Night with 7 p.m. performances Nov. 27-29 (Tuesday-Thursday), Dec. 2-4 (Sunday-Tuesday) and Dec. 6 (Thursday). It works around the Castle schedule and avoids the busy weekends.  

We’ll review its significant fun in The Reader next week, but it’s unlikely to fail with the above joined by David Ebke (Feste), Brent Spencer (Sir Toby Belch), Jeremy Earl (Sir Andrew Aguecheek and such pros as MaryBeth Adams.

Same goes for the likelihood of the silly fun directed by Hughston Walkinshaw at the Blue Barn, where his motley mix of holiday characters includes Barn co-founder Nils Haaland, plus Bill Grennan, Shane Staiger, Jennifer McGill and Eric Green with Bambi Stofer as Rudolph. It opens Friday and runs on subsequent weekends.

Meanwhile, the UNO play adapted by Mary Zimmerman features the story-telling tradition associated with Scheherazade and Arabian Nights. The king played by Raydell Cordell III visits a different princess bride for each of seven nights and asks them to entertain him with tales that reveal great truths.

Each one, from Indian princess Devin Tumpkin to Persian princess Sarah Fogarty Campbell, spins a story that entrances the king. And each tale is acted by the other princesses, who create some 60 characters.

As director Cindy Melby Phaneuf puts it, the king “travels from darkness into light, from self-absorption into thinking of others beyond himself.”

Cold Cream looks at theater in the metro area. Email information to coldcream@thereader.com.

posted at 01:24 pm
on Friday, November 16th, 2012

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