Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Laurel Mill Playhouse Twelfth Night

By • Jul 13th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Twelfth Night
Laurel Mill Playhouse
Laurel Mill Playhouse, Laurel, MD
Through July 17th
2:30 with one intermission
$13/$10 Seniors and Students
Reviewed July 8th, 2011

Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night; or, What You Will, dates back to the turn of the 17th Century, a Twelfth Night amusement for Epiphany, traditionally a time of festivity, upturning of traditional roles and celebration to end the Christmas season. Its plot – mistaken identity, love and loss are to be found in several of Shakespeare’s comedies, most notably A Comedy of Errors (two sets of identical twins mistaken for each other), As You Like It (woman passing for man) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (lovers’ triangle), but the language and festivity are unique to this play about a brother and sister so alike as to be mistaken for each other.

Viola (Helen Gorman), recently rescued from a shipwreck, fears her much beloved twin brother has died in the same wreck and finds herself on the shores of Illyria and in need of a benefactor. With the help of the sailors who rescued her, she decides to dress herself as a boy and serve Orsino, the Duke of Illyria (Gary Muggleton Small, assisted by Jeanette Brown, his sign language interpreter). Orsino asks Viola, now known as Cesario, to become his messenger of love to Olivia (played for our performance by Leeza Malachevsky), recently bereaved of both her father and brother and in no mood to be wooed by anyone. Olivia, charmed by Cesario’s manner and face, falls for “him” instead of the Duke, setting the wheels in motion for confusion and hilarity as Viola tries to come to terms with her own feelings for the Duke.

Also residing in Olivia’s household, Malvolio, Olivia’s dour, humorless steward (Andrew Rayo), Sir Toby Belch, her dissipated and portly uncle, (one of my all-time favorite comic Shakespearean characters, played by Chaz Atkinson), Sir Andrew Aguecheek, his silly sidekick full of puff and bluster (Jackson Sanchez), Maria, Olivia’s sly and revengeful Lady in waiting (Rebecca Jonas) and Fabian, a clever servant (Christina O’Brien) in cahoots with the other three who are determined to retaliate when Malvolio threatens to kick Sir Toby and Sir Andrew out for enjoying their evening celebrations rather more exuberantly than they should so late at night. Feste (Sofia Cabrales), is the charmingly talented fool who brings the separate plotlines of this fun comedy to a proper close with delightful song and words that prove she’s the wisest of fools presented in the story.

When Sebastian (Jacob Rocco) enters the scene with his own savior, the “pirate” Antonio (Julie Rogers), it takes some suspension of disbelief to accept that he could be mistaken for Viola and vice versa, but this is a teen production and casting choices ought to be accepted and applauded. If you’ve seen Twelfth Night, it’s worth seeing again for the interpretations Gorman, Rayo, Cabrales, Atkinson, Jonas and O’Brien give their characters. Aside from supporting our latest generation of actors, these kids make it worth the effort.

In all, a cast of as many as 22 performers bring Twelfth Night to life at the Laurel Mill Playhouse, with the help of director, sound and lighting designer Michael V. Hartsfield, producer Maureen C. Rogers and dramaturge Dan Staicer.

Kim Delk and James Raymond designed the costumes (including the cleverest use of curtains I’ve seen, in Olivia’s second gown), and Raymond is responsible for the attractive set (most notably in the tiny but very practical and nicely designed revolving platform “door” and pivoting arches). Raymond has made the tiny playhouse a suitable and easily changed space for its large cast and quick scene changes.

This show is suitable for theatergoers as young as seven as well as adults. It’s a great family option for an afternoon or evening’s entertainment.


  • ORSINO, Duke of lIIyria: Gary Muggleton Small
  • DUKE’S INTERPRETER: Jeanette Brown
  • CURIO, Gentleman attending the Duke: Alexis Thompson
  • VALENTINE, Gentleman attending the Duke: Jordan Budzinski
  • VIOLA, Sister to Sebastian: Helen Gorman
  • A SEA CAPTAIN and Friend to Viola, Ensemble and Olivia’s Understudy (7/1, 7/8, 7/10, 7/17): Leeza Malachevsky
  • FESTE, a Clown and Servant to Olivia: Sofia Cabrales
  • OLIVIA, a rich Countess: Mariah Kuhn
  • MALVOLIO, Steward to Olivia: Andrew Rayo
  • ANTONIO, a Sea Captain and Friend to Sebastian: Julie Rogers
  • SEBASTIAN, Brother to Viola: Jacob Rocco
  • FABIAN, Servant to Olivia: Christina O’Brien
  • A SERVANT TO OLIVIA and Ensemble: Allison Thompson
  • FIRST OFFICER and Ensemble: Juliet Beach
  • SECOND OFFICER and Ensemble: Justyce Bennett
  • PRIEST and Ensemble: Morgan Delk
  • ENSEMBLE and Second Officer Understudy (7/9, 7/17): Emily Bruun
  • ENSEMBLE: Katie Grebenstein
  • ENSEMBLE and A Sea Captain Understudy (7/1, 7/8, 7/10, 7/17): Mary Elizabeth Hommel


  • Director: Michael V. Hartsfield
  • Producer: Maureen C. Rogers
  • Dramaturge: Dan Staicer
  • Stage Manager: Michael V. Hartsfield, Volunteers
  • Set Designer: James Raymond
  • Set Construction: James Raymond, Lynda Atkinson, Jamie Fine, John Lee, Matt Thompson
  • Set Painting: James Raymond, Lynda Atkinson, Jamie Fine
  • Set Dressing: James Raymond
  • Costume Designers: Kim Delk, James Raymond
  • Costume Construction Crew: Kim Delk, James Raymond, Lynda Atkinson, Jeano Binney, Kathy Cox, Jamie Fine, Nancy Mullis, Debbie Thompson
  • Lighting/Sound Design: Michael V. Hartsfield
  • Properties: Kim Delk, Michael V. Hartsfield, James Raymond
  • Tech Crew: Calvin DaSilva, Michael V. Hartsfield, Volunteers
  • Hair/Make-Up: Cast
  • Program, Poster, Publicity: Maureen Rogers
  • Box Office: Lori Bruun, Steve Bruun, Maureen Rogers, Nicole Woody, Patrice Woody
  • Concessions/Candy Grams: Ginny Brown, Debbie Thompson
  • Head Shots: Brian Binney
  • Website: John Cholod

Disclaimer: Laurel Mill Playhouse provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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is founder and Artistic Director of OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company (O2B2) and General Manager of the Greenbelt Arts Center. Since 2006 Betsy has worked as a director, producer, designer and more. Betsy has also worked with Washington Revels, Arena Stage, the now-defunct Harlequin Dinner Theatre and with community theatre companies both in Maryland and in upstate New York. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Technical Theatre from SUNY New Paltz. Through Hawkeswood Productions, Betsy produces archival performance videos and YouTube highlight spots.

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