Twelfth Night or, What You Will

About the Director

James J. Christy

For 38 years, Dr. Christy has been a professor and director with Villanova University’s theatre department, serving as chairperson of the department for 13 years. Last year, he directed Don Juan at Villanova Theatre and Proof at Arden Theatre Company locally, and had the pleasure of directing a new play, Never Tell, written by his son, Jimmy, for the New York International Fringe Festival. In 2003, he directed fellow faculty member Michael Hollinger’s Red Herring for Actor’s Theatre of Louisville and received his sixth Barrymore Award nomination for Outstanding Direction of a Play for The Merchant of Venice at The People’s Light & Theatre Company. Other recent credits include The Trojan Women, Arcadia, and The Passion of Christ at Villanova Theatre and The Laramie Project at Philadelphia Theatre Company, which received 2001 Barrymore Awards for Overall Production of a Play, Direction of a Play, and Outstanding Ensemble. This spring Dr. Christy will direct the Philadelphia Premiere of Richard Greenberg’s Tony Award-winning play Take Me Out at Philadelphia Theatre Company.

Press Release

VILLANOVA THEATRE PRESENTS TWELFTH NIGHT

James J. Christy Directs William Shakespeare’s Popular Romantic Comedy February 15–27, 2005

Villanova Theatre is pleased to present one of William Shakespeare’s most enduring and endearing comedies, Twelfth Night, or What You Will, directed by Barrymore Award-winning director and theatre professor James J. Christy. Twelfth Night runs February 15–27, 2005, at Vasey Hall on the Villanova University campus. Showtimes are 8:00pm Tuesday–Saturday and 2:00pm Sunday. Tickets are $18–$22 and may be ordered by calling the Villanova Theatre Box Office at (610) 519-7474. Additional information is available online at http://www.villanova.edu/artsci/theatre/.

In Twelfth Night, a young woman, Viola, is separated at sea from her beloved twin brother and tossed upon the shores of the magical kingdom of Illyria. She disguises herself as a man and is drafted by Duke Orsino to woo the stubborn Lady Olivia. Romantic havoc insues when Olivia becomes smitten with Viola (dressed as a man) and Viola, in turn, falls for Orsino. A hilarious subplot involving Olivia’s hapless household makes Twelfth Night an enthralling comedy about illusion, deception, and the extraordinary things people do for love.“I adore Twelfth Night and the fun, joyous, lyrical beauty of its language,” said Christy. “The play is so well put together and features one good scene after another. It is a wonderful ensemble piece – it works well for our students at Villanova. There are great comic roles and terrific romantic characters. ”The “Twelfth Night” of the title refers to the Epiphany or the twelfth night of Christmas, celebrated throughout Europe on January 6. In Shakespeare’s time, “Twelfth Night” was an occasion for great feasting, dancing, disguises, and high sprits. Christy’s cast has embraced the history of “Twelfth Night;” they are working from the First Folio, the first publishing of Shakespeare’s text in 1623, and celebrated their own “Twelfth Night” revels. Villanova Theatre has a rich Shakespearean tradition. In the 1970’s Villanova founded a summer Shakespeare festival and collaborated with the fledgling Philadelphia Theatre Company (PTC) to produce Twelfth Night in 1975 under the direction of Robert Hedley (at that time Artistic Director of PTC and former chair of the Villanova theatre department). Christy, then chair of the Villanova theatre department, played Sir Andrew Aguecheek. “The production was quite memorable,” recalled Hedley. “It was a talented cast and it played for a long time: at Villanova and in Philadelphia, then we toured it to various venues.”

Christy, who frequently directs at major Shakespeare Festivals across the U.S., is staging Twelfth Night for the first time. “I’ve always loved Twelfth Night, but one reason I stayed away from it for so long was that I felt I couldn’t improve on Bob’s production, which I was so close to.”

Christy has not set Twelfth Night in a specific time and place. “We’re generating our own fantasyland made up of different bits and pieces; we’re working on an eclectic design that features a modern sensibility with hints of period,” said Christy. “I am deliberately avoiding a big concept and am working organically, centering the production on what is available and a part of our fantasy."

"Composer Robert Maggio has created beautiful, classical sounds that complement the sentimental and romantic feelings in the play,” Christy continued. “But this music is mixed with popular styles from the 20th century, including Cole Porter, blues, and folk rock to give it irony and wit. Among the cast we happen to have four guitarists and a violinist, so the music is composed around these instruments.”

The 20-member ensemble of Twelfth Night features a mix of Villanova graduate theatre students, undergraduates, faculty members, and guest artists, including Michael Barr (Attendant), David Binanay (Valentino), Bob Bonocore (Sir Toby Belch), Carrie Bray (Servant), Leigh Ann Brienza (Maria), Joseph Cutalo (Antonio), Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A. (Feste), Laura Egan (Servant), Nick Falco (Orsino), Baird Kistner (Attendant), Matthew Livingstone (Officer), Brian Manelski (Captain), Corinne May (Viola), Jason J. Michael (Malvolio), Drew Peterson (Fabian), Elizabeth Pool (Olivia), Justin Poole (Sebastian), Luc Radu (Curio), Matthew Rohner (Priest), Joshua Sauerman (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), and Thomas Sibley (Officer).

Christy has been a professor and director with Villanova's theatre department for 38 years. Last season he directed Don Juan at Villanova Theatre and Proof at Arden Theatre Company, as well as a new play, Never Tell, written by his son, Jimmy, for the New York International Fringe Festival. In 2003, Christy directed fellow faculty member Michael Hollinger's Red Herring at Actor's Theatre of Louisville and received his sixth Barrymore Award nomination for Outstanding Direction of a Play for The Merchant of Venice at The People's Light & Theatre Company. Other recent credits include The Trojan Women, Arcadia, and The Passion of Christ at Villanova Theatre and The Laramie Project at Philadelphia Theatre Company, which received 2001 Barrymore Awards for Overall Production of a Play, Direction of a Play, and Outstanding Ensemble. This spring Christy will direct the Philadelphia Premiere of Richard Greenberg’s Tony Award-winning play Take Me Out at Philadelphia Theatre Company.

The production team assembled for Twelfth Night includes Scenic Designer Gina Pisasale, Costume Designer Charlotte Cloe Fox Wind, Lighting Designer Jerold R. Forsyth, Properties Designer cdavid hall-cottrill, Dramaturg Taylor Williams, and Composer Robert Maggio, professor and chairman of the Department of Music Theory and Composition in the School of Music at West Chester University.

Twelfth Night performs February 15–27, 2005. Press Opening is Wednesday, February 16, at 8:00pm. Performances are held in Vasey Hall, located at Lancaster & Ithan Avenues, on the Villanova University campus. Showtimes are 8:00pm Tuesday-Saturday and 2:00pm Sunday. Tickets are $18–$22, with discounts for seniors, groups, and students. On Thursday, February 24, 2005, Villanova will host a “Speaker’s Night” featuring noted Shakespearean actor and director David Howey. An audience Q & A will immediately follow the 8:00pm performance of Twelfth Night.

Villanova Theatre ends the 2004–2005 season with the Tony Award-winning musical Big River, based on Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Barrymore Award-winner Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., directs Big River April 5–24, 2005.

For tickets and information, please call the Villanova Theatre Box Office at 610-519-7474 or log on to http://www.villanova.edu/artsci/theatre/productions/tickets.htm.

Production Photos

image from production of twelfth night
Sir Toby Belch (Bob Bonocore), Maria (Leigh Anna Brienza), Fabian (Drew Petersen), and Sir Andrew Augecheek (Josh Sauerman)
image from production of twelfth night
Sir Toby Belch (Bob Bonacore), Feste (Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A.), and Sir Andrew Augecheek (Josh Sauerman)
image from production of twelfth night
Viola (Corinne May) and Sebastian (Justin Poole)
image from production of twelfth night
Fabian (Drew Petersen), Sir Toby Belch (Bob Bonocore), Sir Andrew Augecheek (Josh Sauerman), and Malvolio (Jason J. Michael)

Click here to view photos from our history!

Get Involved

Ushering
Ushers are needed for every performance. Ushers arrive one hour before the show, hand out programs, help seat patrons, and see the show for free! Please contact the Villanova Theatre Box Office at 610-519-7474 if you would like to usher.

Production Crew
We need volunteer crew members to help build sets, hang lights, and sew costumes. This is a great way to experience theatre "behind the scenes" and meet new people. Please contact Business/Production Manager Elisa Loprete Hibbs at 610-519-4897 to volunteer for production crew.

Open Auditions
Want to be in the spotlight? Audition for Villanova Theatre productions! Auditions are held throughout the year. 

Cast of Characters

Orsino: Nick Falco
Valentino: David Binanay
Curio: Luc Radu
Viola: Corinne May
Sebastian: Justin Poole
Captain: Brian Manelski
Antonio: Joseph Cutalo
Olivia: Elizabeth Pool
Maria: Leigh Ann Brienza
Sir Toby Belch: Bob Bonocore
Sir Andrew Aguecheek: Josh Sauerman
Malvolio: Jason J. Michael
Fabian: Drew Peterson
Clown (Feste): Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A.
Servants to Olivia: Carrie Bray, Laura Egan
Priest: Matthew Rohner
First Officer: Thomas Sibley
Second Officer: Matt Livingstone
Attendants to Duke: Michael Barr, Baird Kistner