(PHILADELPHIA, PA) -- Lantern Theater Company concludes its 2022/23 season with Twelfth Night, part of the company’s ongoing commitment to produce the timeless stories of William Shakespeare for both the general public and local school students. Featuring live original music composed by Barrymore Award-winner Christopher Colucci, the Lantern’s production of Twelfth Night runs Thursday, May 18 through Sunday, June 18, 2023, at St. Stephen’s Theater, the Lantern’s resident venue.
Lantern Artistic Director Charles McMahon directs an ensemble cast that includes Damon Bonetti, Charlie DelMarcelle, Tyler S. Elliott, J Hernandez, David Ingram, Joanna Liao, Brian McCann, Lee Minora, Melissa Rakiro, and Brian Anthony Wilson.
Twenty years ago, Lantern Theater Company made an artistic commitment to produce the work of William Shakespeare every season, recognizing that his plays have a unique place in our artistic heritage, that they impart essential human knowledge and experience to our own age, and that they promote empathy in audiences of all ages. At the Lantern, these works are presented clearly, creatively, and vividly – ensuring that Shakespeare’s 400-year-old dialogue sounds perfectly current, crackling with the same urgency and excitement that its first audiences would have experienced in Elizabethan times. With this lively and musical production of Twelfth Night, the Lantern celebrates the return of Shakespeare to its mainstage following the Covid-19 pandemic.
One of Shakespeare’s most beloved and complex romantic comedies, Twelfth Night explores art, gender, language, and love through the journey of its compelling heroine, Viola. A shipwreck separates her from her twin brother Sebastian and leaves her in the unfamiliar Illyria, fearing him dead. Lost, Viola disguises herself as a boy, Cesario, to serve the Duke, Orsino. She soon falls in love with him, but he is in love with countess Olivia, who falls in love with Viola in her disguise. We meet a host of iconic characters amid one mind-bending twist after another, and Viola is challenged to find her identity, her lost family, and true love.
“The brilliant and ageless Twelfth Night is a comedy that lives at the edge of heartbreak right up until its magnificent conclusion,” said Lantern Artistic Director Charles McMahon, who helms the production. “Shakespeare was a master of language and character development – and nowhere is this more apparent than in Twelfth Night, with its unforgettable dialogue and the immortal characters of Viola, Malvolio, Sir Toby Belch, and Feste the Jester. The Lantern’s production will recreate the Illyrian coast as a place of mystery and music, where impossible love strives to make itself real against all odds.”
Lantern Theater Company will delve into the world of Twelfth Night on its Lantern Searchlight blog, available online at lanterntheater.org/searchlight. Articles will be published throughout the production’s run, exploring the origins of Twelfth Night, Shakespeare’s heroines and plot devices, behind the scenes interviews with the artists, and more.
Tickets for Twelfth Night are $25 – $42 and are available online at www.lanterntheater.org or by calling the Lantern Box Office at (215) 829-0395. Discounts are available for students, seniors 65 and up, U.S. military personnel, and groups of 10 or more. Performances of Twelfth Night will take place at St. Stephen’s Theater, located at 923 Ludlow Street in Center City Philadelphia. Everyone other than the actors on stage must wear properly fitted masks while in our venue; more information is available at lanterntheater.org/health-and-safety.
Twelfth Night director Charles McMahon co-founded Lantern Theater Company in 1994 and serves as artistic director in addition to directing, writing, and acting for the company. McMahon has directed all but one of the Lantern’s annual Shakespeare productions, including Othello, Measure for Measure, The Tempest, and Coriolanus. Other Lantern directing credits include Travesties, The Plague, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, As You Like It, The Taming of the Shrew, Henry V, New Jerusalem, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, La Ronde (also translator and adapter), Richard III, The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing, King Lear, The House of Bernarda Alba, and A Doll’s House. His acting credits include Heisenberg in the Lantern’s production of Copenhagen, and his writing credits include Oscar Wilde: From the Depths and co-creating an original adaptation of Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales.
The ensemble cast of Twelfth Night includes Damon Bonetti as Orsino (Hapgood, Red Velvet, The Hound of the Baskervilles), Charlie DelMarcelle as Feste (The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Coriolanus), Tyler S. Elliott as Sebastian (Romeo in the original/current cast of the Lantern’s annual education production of Romeo and Juliet), J Hernandez as Sir Andrew (The Plague, The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew, Friar Lawrence in the current cast of the Lantern’s annual education production of Romeo and Juliet), David Ingram as Malvolio (The Government Inspector), Joanna Liao as Viola (The Lifespan of a Fact, The Last Match, The Taming of the Shrew), Brian McCann (The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens & Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord; Coriolanus, Lord Capulet in the original/current cast of the Lantern’s annual education production of Romeo and Juliet), Lee Minora as Maria (Travesties, The Last Match), Melissa Rakiro (Juliet in the original cast of the Lantern’s annual education production of Romeo and Juliet), and Brian Anthony Wilson as Sir Toby Belch (The Royale, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui).
The Twelfth Night creative team includes scenic designer James F. Pyne, Jr. (Lantern credits include A Man for All Seasons, Me and the Devil, The Plague, Othello), costume designer Marla Jurglanis (Travesties, Me and the Devil, Othello, The Heir Apparent), lighting designer Tydell Williams (Lantern debut), and composer/sound designer Christopher Colucci (Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol; Travesties; A Man for All Seasons; The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens & Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord; The Plague; Molly Sweeney). J. Alex Cordaro will serve as fight director for Twelfth Night, his 24th production with the Lantern. Rebecca Smith is the stage manager.
Founded in 1994 and concluding its 29th season with William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the mission of Lantern Theater Company is to produce plays that investigate and illuminate what is essential in the human spirit and the spirit of the times. The Lantern serves the Greater Philadelphia region with award-winning productions and education programming, notably partnering with middle schools and high schools in the Philadelphia School District to provide in-classroom residencies in support of curricular learning. The Lantern became a national leader in streaming theater during the Covid-19 health crisis, producing ten fully designed plays that were created and filmed in the company’s resident home at St. Stephen’s Theater, garnering coverage in national media including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and reaching more than 30,000 patrons in 15 countries and all 50 states.