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Twelfth Night


"If music be the food of love, play on!"

So the music played on throughout the Public Theater's marvelous production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night on a spectacular night at Central Park's Delacorte Theater. The cast, led by Anne Hathaway, put in lively and delightful performances under the clever direction of Daniel Sullivan.

Ms. Hathaway was Viola, who became Cesario for much of the play, and she easily carried out both roles with aplomb. There was a genuineness and frankness in her approach. She delivers her lines with ease, youthful innocence and skill. Ms. Hathaway is a strikingly beautiful woman whose presence commands attention. Nonetheless, in this multifaceted play, she cannot steal the show.

Aura McDonald's Countess Olivia is emotional, human and in command. Lady Olivia has no interest in Duke Orsino's affections, delivered by his servant Cesario. In this case, rather than kill the messenger, Lady Olivia has fallen for him (ah her).

CESARIO (VIOLA)
....I am not what I am.

OLIVIA
I would you were as I would have you be!

CESARIO (VIOLA)
Would it be better, madam, than I am?
I wish it might, for now I am your fool.

This is an enjoyable production of the popular play, which has been performed here many times over the years. Throughout the three hours there was great energy and liveliness, especially because of the rollicking antics of characters Sir Tony Belch (Jay O. Sanders), Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Hamish Linklater) and Feste (David Pittu). In fact, so much so it threatens to topple the proceedings at times. And Lady Olivia's steward Malvolio (Michael Clumpsty) is hilarious in yellow stockings, cross garters and a constant smile.

There is a wonderful score, written by the symphonic folk-rock band Hem, that threads its way throughout the production. And while I knew Audra McDonald sang beautifully, I was amazed and surprised by Anne Hathaway's lovely voice.

The legendary Mike Nichols was seated in the audience with his wife, Diane Sawyer. Steve Martin, Nora Ephron, Nick Pileggi and Susan Lyne were also among those in attendance. There is nothing more New York than Shakespeare in the Park.

CLOWN SINGS
our play is done,
And we'll strive to please you every day.

Follow Joe Peyronnin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/joepeyronnin