EWU Theatre’s Presentation of ‘Twelfth Night The Musical’ Runs Until March 11

March 2, 2023

EWU Theatre’s presentation of Twelfth Night The Musical, running March 3 through March 11, is a “radically inclusive” adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, a classic story of love and mistaken identity. 

Shaina Taub, the New York-based singer and songwriter who created this 2016 adaptation, builds on Shakespeare’s classic play by creating a new and distinctive setting for the drama. The action takes place not in a specific era or location, but in an imagined place where all cultures are welcomed. 

“This is why there are so many musical styles contained within Twelfth Night The Musical, says Jeffrey Sanders, the play’s director and a senior lecturer at EWU. “We have New Orleans jazz, Motown, Broadway showtunes, and 80’s pop music all within this crazy salad of a play.” 

The variety of music is not the only factor that highlights the inclusivity of the play, Sanders says. 

“The play asks us, what does it mean to fall in love with another’s soul, not their gender, or position. Not who everyone thinks you should love, based on superficial standards, but to really fall in love with someone’s essence; to level a world of hierarchy and standards and get to what it is to be human at our most simple and vulnerable selves,” says Sanders.  

Even though the play tackles serious themes, it is a comedy. “It’s also a very funny play that utilizes all of Shakespeare’s comedic devices such as disguises, mistaken identities and dirty jokes sprinkled throughout. It’s one part spiritual awakening and two parts farce,” he says. 

The 90 minute musical has a cast of 30 student actors, the largest Sanders has worked with since he began teaching at EWU in 2007. EWU Theatre held auditions for the production at the end of fall quarter, and started rehearsing at the beginning of the winter term. 

“It has been an absolute privilege and joy working with this group of artists,” Sanders says. “So many rehearsal hours have been spent crafting a very special evening of theater for our audience.” 

Sanders has a passion for Shakespeare. Prior to coming to EWU he lived in Ohio, where he was a company member for the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. “Shakespeare’s plays have always been my greatest pleasure as a theater artist, and to bring this new adaptation to life has been very challenging and exciting,” he says. 

Sanders says one of his favorite lines from the play is: “See through the eyes of another, hear through the ears of somebody else.”

“This lyric from the closing number of Twelfth Night The Musical is the heart of our production,” he says. “‘Seeing through the eyes of another’ is what theater — and all art — allows and demands. That’s the real magic of this play. And that’s what I want our audience to hold onto as they leave the theater and go out into the ‘real world’ where it still ‘raineth every day.’ 

“To me, “ Sanders adds, “this is a play is about inclusion, finding yourself in a new home, and resilience as a community. The students make a joyful noise in our Twelfth Night The Musical, and I believe our audience will undoubtedly be swept away by its magic!” 

Performances are scheduled at EWU’s University Theatre on: Friday, March 3 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, March 5 at 2 p.m.; Thursday, March 9 at 5 p.m.; Friday, March 10 at 7:30 p.m.; and Saturday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m.

Learn more at EWU Theatre’s Upcoming Productions website. Tickets are available at ShowTix4U after Feb. 25. General admission is $10, $5 for students. Those needing accommodations should contact Sara Goff at (509) 359-2459.