adapted from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night by Peter Mills & Cara Reichel
6th Street Playhouse
Runs in Santa Rosa through July 8, 2018

Carmen Mitchell as Viola. Photo: Eric Chazankin

Illyria, the clever musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night created by Peter Mills and Cara Reichel, has been around since 2002, but is rarely produced, perhaps owing to its operatic demands on both performers and orchestra. Its virtual non-stop music, including 15 numbers in act one alone and underscoring for almost every scene, yields a few memorable songs, but it’s the script, turning Shakespeare into musical comedy, that ultimately charms us. 6th Street Playhouse Artistic Director Craig Miller directs the show as his swan song before he departs for a university position, gifting a lovely farewell to the theater he has called home for almost eight years.

The characters are essentially the same as in Shakespeare’s play. Viola (Carmen Mitchell) has been shipwrecked and washes up on the foreign shores of Illyria. Believing her brother Sebastian to be drowned, she decides to impersonate him as a form of protection, and finds employment as a manservant to Duke Orsino (Burton Thomas), with whom she promptly falls in love. Orsino, however, longs for always-in-mourning Countess Olivia (Tracy Hinman), who wants nothing to do with him, but falls madly in love with Viola/Sebastian when the Duke sends her/him to plead his case. When Viola’s brother, the real Sebastian (Lorenzo Alviso), shows up, it’s a fine recipe for hilarity in mistaken identities and skewed love scenes. …

To continue reading about this production, see the full review on Talkin’Broadway: