Young Company brings 'Twelfth Night' to stage

Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2004

Perseverance Theatre's Young Shakespeare Training Company, now called simply the Young Company, will present a slightly pared-down version of the comedy "Twelfth Night" for its fall production.

The play includes 17 kids, middle school- to early high school-age, who auditioned earlier in the year, plus a live original piano score by local musician Mike Maas.

It opens at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19, in Perseverance's Phoenix Room, immediately to the left of the front doors. Other showings are at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, and 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21. Seating is limited, and admission is $10 at the door.

"The kids have done a good job, and I've had a really good time working with them," said co-director Ryan Conarro.

"A lot of times, adults get to Shakespeare, and lots of it gets lost, because they get afraid of it," he said. "Being able to start with it in middle school or early high school, to have that seed of interest, you can bypass the whole element of this being scary, academic, complicated language that you have to learn. They can see it as a piece of theater, as a play, something fun."

Former associate artistic director Anita Maynard-Losh directed The Young Company's version of "Love's Labor Lost" last spring.

Co-director PJ Paparelli, the new artistic director at Perseverance, spent pre-stage time with the cast reviewing Shakespeare's language and multiple meanings.

"Partly because of PJ's own extensive background in Shake-speare, and partly because we had two teachers, we were able to give them in-depth table work for a much longer time than they were accustomed to. When we would put up a scene on the stage for the first time, they would have so much of the work already done."

Maas, a local piano player also known for his short films in the Juneau Underground Motion Picture Film Festival, has composed an original piano score. It includes some instrumentals at the top of the show and a few songs (with Shakespeare's words) written for Feste the Clown.

"The concept of the production is very open," Conarro said. "There's no specific setting or time period. He just ran with it, and came up with some great stuff."

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