Theatre UAB presents Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night; or, What You Will”

Performances of “Twelfth Night” will happen at 7 p.m. nightly Nov. 13-16 and Nov. 20-22, with a 2 p.m. matinee Nov. 23.
12thTheatre UAB will present one of William Shakespeare’s most delectable romantic comedies, the cross-dressing tale of mistaken identity “Twelfth Night; or, What You Will,” on Nov. 13-16 and Nov. 20-23.

“Twelfth Night” performances will be at 7:30 p.m. nightly Nov. 13-16 and Nov. 20-22, with a 2 p.m. show Saturday, Nov. 23, in the Odess Theatre at UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. General admission tickets are $15, student tickets $6, and UAB employee and senior citizen tickets $10. Call 205-975-2787 for tickets. Visit Theatre UAB at

The play’s title is taken from the Eve of the Feast of Epiphany, or the 12th night after Christmas Day. It is a day of festivities and celebrations where the normal rules and customs of the day are turned upside down: Servants dress up as their masters, the privileged dress up as the servant class, men dress as women and ladies as men — or what you will, says Assistant Professor of Theatre Jack Cannon, who will direct the play.

Into this festive environment lands the shipwrecked Viola on the shores of the city of Illyria.  Believing her twin brother, Sebastian, has drowned at sea, Viola disguises herself as a male servant, Cesario, and sets out to serve the Duke of Illyria only to quickly fall in love. The Duke gives Cesario the task of delivering his offer of love to the Countess Olivia, who has sworn off the company of men for seven years as she mourns the deaths of her father and brother. To Viola’s amazement, Olivia does not accept the suit of love from the Duke but falls in love with Cesario instead. So begins a love triangle that only turns squared when Sebastian, once thought drowned, shows up alive in the city of Illyria.

“The play looks at courtship and relationships in a comic light as it pokes fun at what is a man, what is a woman, what is sexuality and what is love,” Cannon said.

The approach to the play centers on the idea of a citywide festival taking over the streets of Illyria. Much like Mardi Gras in New Orleans or Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, the street festival of Illyria is filled with parades, music and costumes, all allowing the citizens of Illyria to hide their true identities and let their inhibitions run wild and free, Cannon says. While the play itself is more than 400 years old, the UAB production will be set in the present day, give or take a few years. The costume design for the play is loosely based in the British rock ‘n’ roll invasion of the 1960s, while the scenic design is a fanciful mixture of worldwide architecture. 

Senior Alora King, a theater major from Boonsboro, Md., composed original music for the lyrics found in Shakespeare’s play and created an entirely new song, “What You Will,” for the opening of the show. 

The all-Alabama cast includes Alex Ingram of Birmingham as Olivia, Brenna Clark of Dogtown as Viola, Alison Shackleford of Birmingham as Fabian, Ben Lundy of Fairhope as Sir Andrew, Blake Tanner of Corner as Officer, Brady Grimm of Fairhope as Captain/Priest, Bliss Bailey of Tuscaloosa as Valentine, Byron King of Prattville as Antonio, Garan Tinsley of Collinsville as Sir Toby, Holly Morgan of Madison as Officer, James Lopez of Birmingham as Duke Orsino, Joseph Bodkin of Huntsville as Malvolio, Morgan Walston of Hoover as Feste, Sherea Lando of Birmingham as Curio, Taylor Richardson of Corner as Maria and Wyatt Silman of Prattville as Sebastian. Jessica Mathews of Hoover is stage manager and assistant scenic designer; Angela Carstensen of San Francisco, Calif., is costume designer.