American Players Theatre TWELFTH NIGHT Review – Tropical Shakespeare

A playful tune begins to play as two actors grace the stage. Decked out in mismatching clothes, she in breeches and he in a skirt, they begin to sing the opening song, “O Mistress Mine.” They invite the audience to sing along with the words helpfully printed on a large sail that sits center stage.

American Players Theatre TWELFTH NIGHT
Colleen Madden & Triney Sandoval
American Players Theatre TWELFTH NIGHT
Kelsey Brennan & La Shawn Banks

This merriment doesn’t last long. We are aboard a ship about to get shipwrecked and the twins Viola and Sebastian are swept apart, believing the other to be dead.

American Players Theatre’s Tropical Feel

As the sail is then ripped away in the storm, we arrive on an island’s simple set. A large blue wall with stairs stands slightly askew, with light fluffy clouds emitting the first of a tropical feel.

Further down, sand piles up against the wall making it feel like we’re in the middle of a beach. Tropical plants are brought on and off stage as well as a patio set if one needs seating. It feels like we could be on any deserted island after just being shipwrecked.

Definitive Action

In this writer’s opinion, Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT can be a tricky one to suss out characters intentions since everyone is falling in love with everyone else, even though they don’t end up with whom they think will by the end. In this production, our actors’ talents make sure to capture what could be those nebulous intentions with defining moments.

Kelsey Brenna as Viola makes sure Orsino, played by Gavin Lawrence, knows she’s very much interested in him with a well placed kiss that has us gasp in disbelief. A moment passes between the two before Viola makes her way back to Olivias.

American Players Theatre TWELFTH NIGHT
Triney Sandoval, Ted Deasy & Phoebe González

Aila Peck as Olivia, gives us no hesitation as she shows she is helplessly in love with Cesario. Then, when the time comes to find she is actually married to Sebastian, she still delights in knowing she is married to one of the look alikes.

Secondary Plot Takes Center Stage

The subplot of TWELFTH NIGHT also grabs our attention as Sir Toby Blech, Sir Andrew Agueecheek, Fabian, and Maria (played Triney Sandoval, Ted Deasy, Phoebe González, and Colleen Madden) try their hands at some tomfoolery.

American Players Theatre TWELFTH NIGHT
Michael Goldstein & Jeb Burris

Pair the four of them together and it feels like we can’t stop laughing as they wreak havoc on solemn Malvolio.  With his garters crossed and stockings yellow, David Daniel also makes the most of his time on stage as Malvolio. Even as uppity and foolish as he is, we can’t help but feel sorry for him as he falls for these four’s tricks.

TWELFTH NIGHT is a fun and light Shakespeare show, and American Players Theatre production delivers on this. It is a good fit for those who would love a classic take on Shakespeare’s work.



Gavin Lawrence
Yao Dogbe
Noah Yaconelli
Kelsey Brennan
Tim Gittings
Aila Peck
Triney Sandoval
Colleen Madden
Ted Deasy
La Shawn Banks
David Daniel
Phoebe González
Jeb Burris
Michael Goldstein
Alys Dickerson
Samantha Newcomb
La’Ron Hamilton II
Rasell Holt


John Langs
Eva Breneman
Jenny Mannis
Arnel Sancianco
Michael A. Peterson
Josh Schmidt
Jessica Bess Lanius
Brian Byrnes
Kelly Myers
Jacqueline Singleton


Now through September 28, 2019
Performance times vary, check the website for more details


American Players Theatre
Hill Theater
5950 Golf Course Rd.
Spring Green, WI


Full price tickets can be purchased through the American Players Theatre website

Photos by Liz Lauren

Alexis Bugajski Photo: Liz Lin

About the Author

Alexis is a theater reviewer, travel bug, media specialist, and burger & beer enthusiast. During the day she works in the advertising business as a senior communications designer. When night falls, or when she can escape to New York, she’s hitting the theaters to see as many shows as she can. And whenever she’s not at her desk or in the audience, she’s out seeking the best burger and beer offerings in Chicago.

Editor's Note:  Click here to read more Picture this Post articles by Alexis Bugajski

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