An Intimate Twelfth Night by the Lantern Theater Company

Damon Bonetti as Orsino and Joanna Liao as Viola in Lantern Theater Company's production of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, directed by Charles McMahon, on stage now through June 18, 2023.
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Shakespeare’s late comedy Twelfth Night is being presented by Lantern Theater Company onstage at St. Stephen’s Theater in Philadelphia until June 18, 2023.
Twelfth Night in Christian custom is the twelfth day of Christmas culminating January 6, the Feast of the Magi. The entire period is meant to be lighthearted and gay, especially January 6, where all sorts of gaiety and gender disguise was on display. Queen Elizabeth I, Glorianna if you will, commissioned this entertainment perhaps for Twelfth Night in 1601, or, perhaps not. The title is also dubious since it is said Shakespeare wanted a better title until settling on the working title when nothing else struck his fancy. 
The plot centers about two women, Countess Olivia (Melissa Rokiro), who is in mourning for her dead brother, and Viola (Joanna Liao), who has survived a shipwreck, and believes her twin brother Sebastian (Tyler S. Elliott) drowned. Duke Orsino (Damon Bonetti) is madly in love with the icy Countess, and enlists Viola (now disguised as a tween boy named Cesario) as his go-between and ambassador. At one point, the Duke and Cesario/Viola appear to be close to a kiss, prompted by the powers of music. Most of the play occurs in Countess Olivia’s palace, with a Fool named Feste (a delightful, mercurial Charlie DelMarcelle), Sir Andrew, suitor for the hand of the Countess (played with feckless abandon by J Hernandez), and Sir Toby, kinsman to the Countess (A hearty, lively yet nuanced Brian Anthony Wilson) scampering about.  David Ingram is a prim and prissy Malvolio, Lee Minora is the Countess’ Lady, Maria, and Brian McCann is Antonio (who seems to be in love with Sebastian, whom he has saved from drowning). The intimate space heightens the playgoing experience immeasurably. You will find yourself inches away from the actors.
Gender confusion abounds. People fall in love with the wrong people, who, magically, turn out to be the right people. A giddy, marvelous masterpiece by Shakespeare you must not miss.
The program appears to say something quite contradictory about the director, so we asked Anne Shuff to clarify. She wrote:
Twelfth Night was directed by Lantern Theater Company co-founder and artistic director Charles McMahon, who remains very much alive. Charles’ father – the Charles J. McMahon, Jr. whom we honor in our show program – passed away in late 2022. 
St. Stephen’s Theater is in the heart of Philadelphia, at 10th and Ludlow Streets. Be aware that there are no elevators, and there are a few flights of stairs. 
The 2023-2034 Season, its 30th, has been announced. 
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol will be onstage for the holidays. For all details, and to purchase tickets, visit 

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