Twelfth Night

The Nevada Conservatory Theatre at UNLV Opens Shakespeare's Twelfth Night Dec 1

The Nevada Conservatory Theatre at UNLV (NCT) opens William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, or What You Will, the second production in NCT’s Main Season, at 8 p.m. on Friday, December 1. Acclaimed Shakespearean director James Edmondson, a resident artist with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival since 1972, directs. Edmondson has directed and acted in productions for the American Conservatory Theatre, the Utah Shakespearean Festival, PCPA Theaterfest, and San Jose Repertory Theatre.

Twelfth Night is the twelfth day after Christmas. In the 15th century, this was the major Christmas festival associated with the Feast of Fools. It was a period of holiday abandon in which the normal rules and order of life were suspended or inverted. Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is full of mischief and merriment and features some of his most irresistible characters. There is a pair of shipwrecked twins, the winsome Viola, the roguish Sir Toby Belch, and the pompous Malvolio, who reveal the secrets of love, laughter, and life.

Two actors with Actors’ Equity Association are featured in this production. Michael Tylo plays Malvolio and Alan Coates is Sir Toby Belch.

Tylo has performed extensively on stage, film, and television. His stage credits include seasons at The Long Wharf, Alley Theatre, Meadowbrook Theatre, as well as performing at The Roundabout Theatre and the Louise Lortel Theatre in New York City. He is a founding board member of The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. His television credits include featured roles on Murder She Wrote, Even Stevens, and Perry Mason.

Coates has performed in Tony Award-winning productions on Broadway, including Dracula, Scapino, Sherlock Holmes, Death, and The King’s Horseman. His regional theatre credits include the Ahmanson Theatre, the Goodman Theatre, Baltimore’s Center Stage, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Hartford Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and the Cleveland Playhouse.

Stephen Crandall plays Orsino, the Duke of Illyria; Lisa Easley and Tee Jay Jones are the separated twins; and Meredith Wolfe is Viola. Others in the cast are Robert Hamilton, Spenser Rowe, Steven Fehr, Zonya Johnson, Alex Holmes, Kyle Van Son, Matthew Arrington, Adam Graham, Arthur Ross, Kim Kelly, Joan Mullaney, Melanie Turner, Frank Gambino, Stephen Lewandowski and Richie Villafeurty.

Scene design is by guest artist Mihai Ciupe, a Romanian scenic artist who received a double MFA degree in costume and set design from Carnegie Mellon University. While working on his MFA, he was granted the George Kimberly Scene Design Award and the Oren Parker Award in Design and Production.

Costumes are by Judy Ryerson, director of the costume design program at UNLV, with lighting by Hannah Boigon, a graduate student in the MFA program.

A discussion with the cast and artists, moderated by Dave McGinnis, will be held following the performance on Thursday, December 7.

Performances are December 1, 2, 7, 8, 9 at 8 p.m. with matinees at 2 p.m. on December 3, 9 and 10. Tickets are $25 general admission, $20 for students, seniors, military and handicapped, and may be purchased at the Performing Arts Center Box Office. Box Office hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Box Office may be reached by calling 895-ARTS (2787).


Dates of performance:

Dec 1, 8 pm, Judy Bayley Theatre
Dec 2, 8 pm, Judy Bayley Theatre
Dec 3, 2 pm, Judy Bayley Theatre
Dec 7, 8 pm, Judy Bayley Theatre
Dec 8, 8 pm, Judy Bayley Theatre
Dec 9, 2 pm and 8 pm, Judy Bayley Theatre
Dec 10, 2 pm and 8 pm, Judy Bayley Theatre

Oh What a 'Night'

Dec 1, 2006
By Corey Levitan
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Nevada Conservatory Theatre tackles the Shakespeare classic

James Edmondson, resident artist and director with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival since 1972, directs Nevada Conservatory Theatre's production of William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" beginning tonight.

"Edmonson is one of the best Shakespeare directors in the country," says Robert Brewer, the Conservatory's artistic director. "His vision for the play is absolutely incredible, and I feel great to have him with us." Advertisement

The Bard's play takes its title from a 15th-century festival thrown on the twelfth day after Christmas, during which life's normal rules were abandoned or inverted.

"(This) is one of Shakespeare's great comedies," says Edmondson, 68, who also has directed and acted with San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre, the Utah Shakespearean Festival and the San Jose Repertory Theatre.

"I did the play maybe 30 years ago," Edmonson says, "and I've wanted to do it again since."

According to Edmonson, "Twelfth Night" is special for being 400 years ahead of its time in its depiction of women.

"Not everyone writing at the same time as (Shakespeare) did had as deep an appreciation for women as he seems to have had," Edmonson says. "(The female characters) are fully developed, and they have great courage and resourcefulness."

It's difficult to contest the Bard's brilliance as a writer. But it's also often difficult to follow his plot lines due to the archaic prose.

"The language is hard at times," Edmonson admits, "there's no doubt. But the fact that the form is difficult doesn't alter the fact that the essence is meaningful. And it's our job to show the human condition regardless of the way it's being presented. If we can do it in a musical, we can still do it with Shakespeare.

"It means that the skill level of the performers has to be pretty developed."

To that end, the production boasts two actors with the Actors' Equity Association -- Michael Tylo as Malvolio and Broadway veteran Alan Coates as Sir Toby Belch.

Tylo has performed extensively on stage, film, and television. He is a founding board member of the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, and his TV credits include featured roles on "Murder She Wrote," "Even Stevens," and "Perry Mason."

Coates has performed in Tony Award-winning Broadway productions including "Dracula," "Sherlock Holmes" and "Death."

"We have such a good cast," says Edmonson, who reports an extraordinarily smooth rehearsal process.

"I think we're going to be very successful with this."

Reviews on Michael's performance

"Michael Tylo portrayed Malvolio splendidly with his inability to smile and constant looking down his nose. Tylo, on loan from the Actor's Equity Association, the union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States, has been in several shows on television and in several other famous on-stage productions." -The Rebel Yell

"However, when the overcooked performances mesh with Shakespeare's more outrageous comedic conceits, there are fleeting moments of authentic giddiness. The jester's crown goes to Malvolio (Equity actor Michael Tylo), the sourpuss steward of Olivia's household, who's the victim of a practical joke designed to make him think Olivia is in love with him, perpetrated by Olivia's drunkard uncle, Sir Toby Belch (Equity actor Alan Coates), foppish Sir Andrew Ague-Cheek (Steven Fehr), who is also ineptly courting Olivia, and house servant Maria (Zonya Love Johnson). Urged to madcap heights by a forged letter with bogus instructions on how to court Olivia's favor, Tylo's Malvolio milks it for Marx Brothers-style lunacy, strutting like some aristocratic duck in yellow stockings and garters while straining to maintain a dignified air with plummy pretentiousness." -Las Vegas Weekly

"...Michael Tylo plays the aforementioned servant, Malvolio, dynamically and well -- variations on a theme of prissy, Rumsfeldian dignity --..." -Las Vegas City Life

Webmaster sees Twelfth Night...and meets Michael

I spent three months in New York City last year. Late in November, I heard that Michael was appearing in a play, Twelfth Night by Shakespeare, in Las Vegas, and that if I could get there, he would reserve me a ticket, and we could meet after the play! I had been planning a trip out to the West, so how could I say no to that? I booked my flights and my hotel and was all set to take over Vegas.

Michael called to set the meeting up. I missed his first call and nearly dropped the phone when I heard the message he'd left in my voice mail. I eventually called him back, and despite the fact that leaving voice mail intimidates me to no end (a Finnish thing that Americans don't seem to understand), I left him a message. He was able to reach me when he returned my call. He told me he had arranged a ticket for me, and instructed me to meet him backstage after the show. After we ended the call, I had to sit down, catch my breath and pinch myself. It took me a moment to realize that I had just spoken with Michael on the phone.

I took off to Vegas on Thursday, December 7th. I had a lovely time exploring Vegas, and it felt surreal being there. Friday evening I headed out to the Judy Bayley Theatre at UNLV. I picked up the ticket Michael had reserved for me at the box office, found my seat, and waited for the show to begin.

To say I was giddy with excitement when I first saw Michael on stage would be an understatement. I had just read the play on the plane, so I knew when to expect to see him on the stage. Nothing, however, could've prepared me for the actual realization that I was actually seeing him performing live with my own eyes. Michael's performance of Malvolio was just magnificent. The entire cast did a great job bringing Shakespeare's words alive, and the play was delightful.

After the play I ventured down the stairs and through the doors leading to the backstage. I stood waiting in the hallway, watching the actors come out of the dressing rooms. Finally, I saw Michael step out. He was as handsome as ever. He didn't know what I looked like, so I had to be brave and take a few steps and reach out to shake his hand. He greeted me and asked if I had enjoyed the show. He also wanted to know if I had trouble finding the theater or getting the ticket and was glad to hear that there had been no problems. The gentleman that he is, Michael offered to give me a ride back to my hotel. He complimented me on my English and with the Finnish modesty kicking in, I was only able to reply with a "well...thank you". As we were walking out of the theater, we ran into some members of the cast, and Michael introduced me to them as his friend from Finland.

When we were walking towards the UNLV campus parking garage, he suddenly stopped and said he just remembered he hadn't parked his car there that day. We turned around and ran into another cast member and stopped to chat for a minute. As we were walking, we talked about the website [this website as well as the Quint& Nola site] and Michael asked me about my studies and my family. I was quite nervous, but I vaguely recall being able to get at least some words out of my mouth. Michael impressed me with his knowledge of Finland. He is of Hungarian descent, and since the Finns and the Hungarians have their roots in the same place, he has learned a thing or two about Finland while studying his own family history.

We got to his car, and drove off. Michael asked me if I'd visited other places during my stay in the States, and I told him about the trips I'd taken and things I'd seen. We also talked about Vegas and how the Strip is a whole world of its own. As were pulling over at the MGM Grand, he started singing to the radio (and yes, he has a very pretty singing voice). He shook my hand and said it had been a pleasure finally meeting me. I thanked him for inviting me. We said goodbyes. I got out of the car and went to my room picking up some Starbucks on the way. I sat down and sent my parents a text message telling them what a wonderful evening I'd just had. I emailed my friend in New York and told her I was walking on a cloud.

Seeing Michael perform on stage had been a long time dream. I was so excited just about seeing him in the play, but never dreamed I would actually meet him. I was almost floored when I first received the message that if I was in Vegas, Michael would arrange a ticket for me and would like to meet with me after the play. So, my trip to Vegas turned out to be one of the most exciting things I've done, and Michael was just as I pictured him to be - an excellent actor, and, not to mention, a very sweet and kind person. Hopefully I will get a chance to meet him again someday.


Michael Tylo as Duke of Norfolk in A Man For All Seasons in 2005