A love-sick count.
A cross-dressing twin.
A grieving woman stuck in her shell.
As the situation in Ilyria spirals into chaos, identities are confused, and jealousy and passion rage. Will anyone win the one they love, or the life they seek?

One of Shakespeare’s earliest and most riotous comedies, Twelfth Night reveals the lengths we will go (yellow tights, anyone?) and the risks we are willing to take for a new lease on life.

Cast & Staff

Cast & Staff

The Cast

(in order of their appearance)

Livery Man Vicky Kanaga
Orsino, Duke of Illyria Luke Norman
Curio, attendant to the Duke Jeremy Haig
Valentine, attendant to the Duke Heather Catlin
Viola, sister to Sebastian Rachel McKendree
Sea Captain, friend to Viola Br. Stephen Velie
Sir Toby Belch, Uncle to Olivia Brad Lussier
Maria, Olivia’s gentlewoman Kate Shannon
Sir Andrew Aguecheek, a visiting gentleman Kyle Norman
Feste, a clown Chris Kanaga
Olivia, a rich countess Ellen Ortolani
Malvolio, steward to Olivia Sr. Danielle Dwyer
Maids at Olivia’s house Lindsey Kanaga, Sarah Hale
Antonio, a sea captain, friend to Sebastian Br. Stephen Velie
Sebastian, brother to Viola Peter Haig
Fabian, servant to Olivia Sr. Phoenix Catlin
Officer 1 Sarah Hale
Officer 2 Heather Catlin
Priest Vicky Kanaga


Sr. Danielle Dwyer

Technical Director
Chris Kanaga

To see the entire program or read  the program notes click here

News & Reviews

News & Reviews

Elements Theatre shines in ‘Twelfth Night’

By Cindy Nickerson, Cape Cod Times Illyria rhymes with “deliria.” Was Shakespeare possibly thinking just that when he set his early comedy “Twelfth Night” (usually dated from 1601 or 1602) in this quasi mythical Mediterranean land? According to Webster’s, the word “delirium” has been around since 1590-1600, when it meant “out of one’s mind.” Delusions of love and grandeur fuel this perennial favorite, which – under the direction of Danielle Dwyer – careens along merrily in a production by Elements Theatre Company. Duke Orsino (Luke Norman) sets off a spinning circle of love as he obsessively pines away for the beautiful Countess Olivia (Ellen Ortolani). She, in mourning for her brother, will have no suitors. Meanwhile, a young woman named Viola (Rachel McKendree), shipwrecked off the Illyrian coast, disguises herself as a man and finds a position as a page in the duke’s household. He, knowing her as Cesario, quickly embraces her as his confidant and sends her to woo Olivia on his behalf. Eloquent in her cause – though she’s fallen in love with the duke herself – Viola only succeeds in kindling the misguided lady’s passion for her alter ego. Olivia’s uncle, Sir Toby (Brad Lussier), exemplifies the play’s slightly off-kilter spirit. Although perpetually tipsy, he’s the mastermind behind a zany subplot or two, including a ruse to deflate Olivia’s self-important steward, Malvolio. His gleeful co-conspirators are Olivia’s gentlewoman Maria (Kate Shannon); his dim-witted comrade, Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Kyle Norman); and Feste (Chris Kanaga), Olivia’s not-so-foolish fool. They’re a rowdy, irreverent bunch with a most engaging chemistry – ignited, in large measure, by Lussier. He so completely inhabits Sir Toby – or perhaps it’s vice versa – that it’s impossible to tell where one begins and the other ends. (He clearly also played a helpful role as dramaturge. This classically trained company delivers lines with ease, taking mastery of the archaic language as if it’s second nature.) But the entire cast is exceptional, with those playing secondary or even tertiary characters maintaining a lively presence. Particularly outstanding is Dwyer, who – in an unusual gender-bender – boldly takes on the role of Malvolio. She endows him with a pomposity equal only to the silliness that ensues when – thanks to a forged love letter, presumably from Olivia – he begins going about wearing a forced smile and yellow stockings. After reading the letter he pronounces, “I am happy” with a fierce determination, as if to say, “even if it kills me.” This casting is a nice touch in a play where the script already calls for a woman to play a man (although in Shakespeare’s day, it would have been a man playing a woman playing a man). McKendree conveys great sincerity and spirit as Viola/Cesario, never losing sight of her double role. Ortolani is especially wonderful – absolutely effervescent as Olivia, who quickly trades in her black mourning weeds for shimmering dresses after meeting Cesario. Today, we might bill “Twelfth Night” as a sunny romantic comedy. The production is very “now,” tapping into the timelessness of Shakespeare’s humor and humanity as it moves along at a breezy pace. One of the famous lines from “Twelfth Night” is: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.” At the very least, Elements Theatre Company’s production flirts with greatness. And it definitely delivers on the promise of great entertainment.

Elegant Twelfth Night washes ashore at Rock Harbor

Written by John Watters, Barnstable Patriot Mirthful mischief is fine entertainment Some people are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them, Shakespeare’s Malvolio reads in a letter written to him (he thinks) by Olivia, the object of his affections. Those words provide apt descriptions of the actors of the Elements Theatre Company performing the Bard’s Twelfth Night in Orleans. Sophisticated theater is Elements’ forte, and staging Shakespeare is truly its element. With a regal set and lush costumes the various actors of the Community of Jesus repertory company easily capture the essence of the comedy and revel in the fast-paced farce of mistaken identity and gender-bending tomfoolery. A simple synopsis of Twelfth Night has Viola being shipwrecked on the shoreline of an unfamiliar land called Illyria. Her twin brother Sebastian was also aboard the ill-fated ship and she fears that he has drowned. Viola meets the area’s duke, Orsino, who connives her to disguise herself as a man, Cesario, and become a servant to Olivia, with whom Orsino is smitten. He hopes Cesario, can convince Olivia that he’s the man for her and everyone can live happily ever after. That would be simple, but that’s not quite what Shakespeare had in mind, as he adds layers of ancillary characters such as Malvolio, Olivia’s steward; Sir Toby Belch, her rummy uncle; Sir Andrew, a drinking buddy of Belch; and Feste, a very wise court jester. Combining these ingredients, along with a cadre of other supporting personae, Shakespeare creates a complex labyrinth of a tale which of course gets sorted out in the end. The director, Sr. Danielle Dwyer, who also plays Malvolio, has things well in hand, keeping the comedy moving swiftly under full sail. Although the spectacle she creates is admirable, one drawback might be the expanse of the stage, which sometimes has the audience’s heads moving back and forth as if watching volleys of a tennis match. Her performance of Malvolio is extremely amusing, as her character finds himself the foil of Toby and his bunch of mirth makers. Olivia is exquisitely fleshed out by Ellen Ortolani, who easily becomes the much sought after romantic desire of men of every station. Rachel McKendree is delightful as Viola/Cesario. McKendree is a sprite in her mustached identity and alluring as the lovely Viola. Sir Toby Belch is robustly played by Brad Lussier who with tussled hair has way too much fun as he carouses with his band of merry makers Sir Andrew, nicely done by Kyle Norman, and Chris Kanaga, who is perfect as the all too wise jester Feste. Like most Element productions all those on stage, which includes a cast of 19, are well-trained and well-rehearsed, which makes this tapestry of a play a beautiful vision to behold.

From the Director

From the Director

Dear Friends,

Welcome to Illyria; a place of magic, mystery and mayhem.
In the midst of the mayhem is a story Shakespeare is valiantly trying to tell us, a story that he brings to life through a unique blend of characters. Each has his agenda in which he or she may win or lose something of great value. Not all of the characters are forthcoming about their agendas—even to themselves, a fact which adds to the delight of the story.

Literary critic, Joseph Summers says of Twelfth Night,
Every character has his mask, for the assumption of the play is that no one is without a mask in the serio-comic business of the pursuit of happiness. As a general rule, we laugh with the characters who know the role they are playing and we laugh at those who do not; we can crudely divide the cast of Twelfth Night into those two categories.

The characters in both of these categories are working out in their lives the things most important to them, while at the same time facing the challenge to change some of the choices they have made and embrace life in a new way. For example, Olivia says, Me thinks tis time to smile again. In smiling she makes the choice to shake off the grief which has shrouded and protected her and risk the thrill of something new—a freedom that allows her to choose life again. She is not alone in choosing something new nor in the subsequent surprising possibilities—though for some, smiling comes with a different expectation and leads to a different end!

Shakespeare knows the humanity of his characters, and because he knows them so well, he allows the craziness of their choices to lead them into explosions of life. Ours is the joy of joining in their experience!
Have a great evening!

See and Hear