A lonely duke woos a radiant countess who has sworn off the love of any man. A clumsy and foolish knight is exploited by a drunken nobleman who pretends to be his friend. A humorless steward is tricked by a clever maid into making himself an object of ridicule and scorn. A desperate girl disguises herself as her twin brother, whom she believes has been drowned.

Such is the current state of things in Illyria, the fanciful setting for one of Shakespeare’s most well-loved comedies, "Twelfth Night." And bringing us this spectacular newly interpreted production of this Christmas comedy is none other than the fledgling theater company New Bear Players.

This original production of Shakespeare’s "Twelfth Night" will be performed at Murfreesboro’s Little Theater Log Cabin Playhouse, 702 Ewing Blvd. The production will run Friday and Saturday evenings, with Sunday matinées, from Nov. 30-Dec. 2, and Dec. 7-9. 

Artistic Director and actor Marc Mazzone has assembled a dream team from among some of the strongest actors in Middle Tennessee to bring to us this 400-year-old comedy, and just in time for the holidays.

Some of the key actors in this production include Courtney Sadler as Viola, Tamiko Robinson as Olivia, Lane Wright as Malvolio and Marc Mazzone himself as Olivia’s drunken uncle Sir Toby.

Shakespeare was such a brilliant writer, perhaps the best ever to live, and nearly everything he ever wrote touched on a universal truth that left much room for new translations from future generations. The New Bear Players have put a contemporary and hip twist on the look of the production.

"There’s no gimmick here," says Mazzone, "we want the audience focused on characters who are still around today, rather than on costumes that make the characters seem remote. We play the show in modern clothes and use swords when the script calls for them. Illyria is a fantasy place, and there’s no reason people can’t be in modern garb and still duel with swords." (Obviously, however, the company has banned the use of cell phones within the production, because if communication between the characters were that easy there would be no plot.)

Mazzone has a lot of experience acting and directing. He recently did both in Christine Mather’s experimental play "Zoologies," which was an exceptionally heartfelt and original work of art.

On his style of directing Mazzone claims, "I generally include action that moves all the way through the piece from beginning to end. I hate blackouts, and the characters change the set as part of the action.

One of the New Bear Players’ unique qualities is that they are largely self-directed, and while Mazzone has "tried to help clear up moments on stage and make sure all the sight lines are good, the direction and ideas come from everyone else."

For more information about the production or the New Bear Players call (615) 418-0511 or email newbearplayers@gmail.com for reservations.

Don’t miss this show because, as Mazzone himself says, "it will be a visual feast that is always moving but never muddy."

Photo courtesy of Red Bull

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Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville

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