Marian’s production of ‘Twelfth Night’ takes a modern turn

By ElissaEisele

Margaret McGill ’24 and Annie Stessman ’25 practice a scene at the “Twelfth Night” try-outs on Jan. 11. Performances are set for the last week in March. Photo by ElissaEisele.

Second semester at Marian is packed with loads of opportunities for students to get involved in their community, and participating in the spring play is a popular choice for many girls. This year Marian is performing the Shakespearean play, “Twelfth Night.” 

This classic has had many modern adaptations such as the film comedy, “She’s the Man” (2006) with leads Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum. The play is undergoing another modern adaptation from director Mr. Michael McCandless, who is giving the play a Caribbean twist.

This modern twist includes a use of cellphones, and a modern feel to the play’s dialect. The setting was also switched to be in the Caribbean.  

“Twelfth Night” follows the story of female lead Viola who is separated from her twin, Sebastian. She then dresses as a man and works for Duke Orsino, whom she falls in love with. Orsino is in love with the Countess Olivia and sends Viola to court her for him, but Olivia falls for Viola instead, thinking she is a man. 

Sebastian arrives, causing a flood of mistaken identity, and marries Olivia. Viola then reveals she is a girl and marries Orsino. This Shakespearean drama is highly sought after with a small number of female roles, resulting in greater competition for Marian girls. There were 50 students that tried out and only 17 main speaking roles. 

Although the limited female roles in “Twelfth Night” provide a greater amount of competition for leads, the theater community within Marian is anything but cut-throat. With most of the prospective roles being auditioned for by returning students, the community is full of love and support. 

Junior Margaret McGill is looking forward to “seeing who is all in the show” because her “past experiences have been great.” McGill has participated in past productions put on by Marian such as “Freaky Friday,” “Footloose” and “Jugglers Gift” and has had nothing but great experiences. 

This sentiment was echoed throughout the response of other Marian girls such as sophomore Annie Stessman. Stessman participated in the fall musical, “Beauty and the Beast,” and is looking forward to participating in the Spring Play. 

Stessman was part of the ensemble of “Beauty and the Beast” and came into the audition process for “Twelfth Night” in hopes of being cast in a more involved role. This is no small feat as Stessman recalled, “everyone is so much more stressed and we’re all more aware of the cuts.” Stessman and other members of the ensemble cast will be playing in the roles of Party Guests, Employees, Friends, Sailors, Passengers, Dancers and Vendors in “Twelfth Night.”

Marian’s theater production also provides Creighton Preparatory students with the opportunity to participate in theater. For senior Luke Meyer, this year’s spring production holds a special place in his heart. 

This isn’t his first time auditioning for “Twelfth Night.” As a freshman, Meyer auditioned for “Twelfth Night” in spring of 2020 and was cast as the role of Sir Andrew. 

Sir Andrew is described as a “bumbling knight who is encouraged by Sir Toby to continue courting Lady Olivia” so that “Sir Toby can gull him out of enough money to continue the nightly drinking hours” by the descriptions provided by McCandless. 

Unfortunately, the play was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and all the hard work students had put in during auditions amounted to little. 

For Meyer, this year’s play serves as a full circle moment as he is able to keep the role he achieved his freshman year and is “excited for the modern twist McCandless is putting on the Shakespearean classic.”  

 “Twelfth Night” also allows for involvement from all types of Marian students. Students don’t have to be acting professionals to be part of the play. Stage crew allows students to participate in the play behind the scenes. 

This was the case for senior Chloe’ Reynek freshman year “before “Twelfth Night” got canceled due to COVID I was on set construction” this year Reynek was cast as the lead, Lady Olivia. 

Reynek stated that “it’s crazy to look back and think I was on set construction and now I’m a lead,” going on to say, “it shows how much I’ve grown as a person and how much my confidence has grown throughout high school.” 

“Twelfth Night” is a way for Marian and Prep students to get involved in the theater community and learn valuable skills. The cast had their first read-through Jan. 22 and will begin performances on March 29-31.

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