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Casting for ‘Twelfth Night’ brings many local actors home

Twelfth Night Locals 800

Past or present Colorado ‘Twelfth Night’ cast members, top row from left: Seth Dhonau, Mehry Eslaminia, Runner Francisco and Sam Gregory. Second row: Larry Hecht, Rodney Lizcano, Larry Paulsen and Kim Staunton.

Tom Hagerman of DeVotchKa will compose original music

The DCPA Theatre Company has announced the full casting and creative team for its upcoming production of Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare’s beloved romantic comedy with live music that will perform from November 15 through December 22 in the Space Theatre.

Mehry Eslaminia, shown performing in 'Appoggiatura' in 2015, will play Viola in 'Twelfth Night.' Photo by Jennifer Koskinen

Mehry Eslaminia, shown performing in ‘Appoggiatura’ in 2015, will play Viola in ‘Twelfth Night.’ Photo by Jennifer Koskinen

Twelfth Night is scheduled for the holiday season because it is named for the last night of “The 12 Days of Christmas” – a traditional occasion for tomfoolery. And Twelfth Night is filled with it.

The story begins with beautiful noblewoman Viola shipwrecked in a violent storm off the coast of a strange land called Illyria. Having lost her twin brother, Sebastian, in the storm, she disguises herself as a boy and assumes the name Cesario, as it is dangerous for a young woman to be alone in the world. She offers her gender-bending services as a page for Orsino, the local Duke. But alas, Viola quickly falls in love with her boss and, worse, is charged with serving as his proxy in his own courtship of Lady Olivia, who in turn forms an instant attraction for the messenger. Yes, this is a comedy where no one loves anyone who loves them back … until they do. The story is also populated by a number of colorful supporting characters, namely those who plot to torment Lady Olivia’s stuck-up steward, Malvolio.

The DCPA’s festive production will be directed by Artistic Director Chris Coleman. “This will be my first opportunity to direct Shakespeare for the DCPA Theatre Company and work in the round in The Space Theatre,” said Coleman. “When I’m working on Shakespeare, what I love most is to figure out how to illuminate it from within, and Twelfth Night is a fun, compelling comedy about love and identity that continues to resonate with audiences today. I’m extremely excited for audiences to experience the music, costumes and the cast in this production.”

Take a deeper dive into Twelfth Night

Tom Hagerman DeVotchKa. Photo by John Moore

Composer Tom Hagerman of DeVotchKa performed on behalf of ‘Sweeney Todd’ at the Cherry Creek Mall in 2016. Photo by John Moore

There’s a reason the most enduring quote in all of Twelfth Night is, “If music be the food of love, play on.” Coleman has invited multi-instrumentalist Tom Hagerman from the internationally known Denver band DeVotchKa to compose the music, and several cast members will perform live music during the play. DeVotchKa previously collaborated with the DCPA Theatre Company on the making of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Audiences who saw Sweeney Todd can expect to hear something just as unique, and a beautiful blending of the music with the story of Twelfth Night,” Coleman said. “This production also will include costume designs by Kevin Copenhaver, and audiences can expect the costumes to be Renaissance with a Mediterranean twist.”

The cast will be led by returning Denverite Mehry Eslaminia as Viola. She was part of the first freshman class to include girls at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora and went on to earn her degree in acting from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. Eslaminia previously appeared in the DCPA Theatre Company’s 2015 world-premiere play Appoggiatura playing both a live mandolin and a character named Kate. She also has performed with Creede Repertory Theatre, the DCPA’s Off-Center, Curious Theatre and more. She was nominated for a 2016 Henry Award as Outstanding Actress in a Musical for her performance as Adelaide in Creede Rep’s Guys and Dolls.

“Showing  young actors of color that there are even more places for them in our world is the most beautiful responsibility I could have been given.” Mehry Eslaminia
“This feels like the ultimate homecoming,” Eslaminia said. “Like all of the hard work, state after state, theatre after theatre, has prepared me for this. When I was younger, Shakespeare was this unattainable place on stage, filled mainly by white actors. Being an Iranian-El Salvadorian American playing Viola, showing young actors of color that there are even more places for them in our world is the most beautiful responsibility I could have been given.”

Twelfth Night also will bring back several longtime Theatre Company veterans: Kim Staunton as Maria, former longtime DCPA Head of Acting Larry Hecht as the drunk fool Sir Toby Belch, Sam Gregory as the more insidious chump Malvolio and Larry Paulsen as Feste/The Fool.

Staunton, who has appeared in dozens of DCPA Theatre Company plays including Ruined and six August Wilson plays, was last seen here in the 2017 world premiere of the climate drama Two Degrees. Hecht has a long list of Denver Center acting credits including A Skull in Connemara, The Pillowman and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Gregory, who has more than 40 DCPA credits since 1991 (most recently in Sweat), just completed the prestigious Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship working under Tyne Daly, herself a founding member of the DCPA Theatre Company. Paulsen co-starred with Gregory in The 39 Steps.

Seth Dhonau, a veteran of the long-running DCPA Cabaret musicals First Date and Xanadu, will play Valentine. Actor and musician Runner Francisco, who attended Flatirons Academy in Westminster, will make his Theatre Company debut after having appeared in Local Theatre Company’s Discount Ghost Stories. He is currently performing in the Aurora Fox’s regional premiere of Miss You Like Hell.

In an interesting twist, this production also brings back busy company veteran and 2018 True West Award winner Rodney Lizcano, who last year appeared in The Constant Wife and currently can be seen in Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s Tiny Beautiful Things. He played Sir Andrew Aguecheek in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s just-completed summer staging of Twelfth Night in Boulder. Here, he will play the Priest. Krystel Lucas (Olivia) last appeared at the DCPA as the pastor’s wife in The Christians.

From left: Corey Allen (Orsino), Krystel Lucas (Olivia) and Erick González (Antonio).

Cast:

  • Corey Allen (Macbeth, Shakespeare Theatre Company) as Orsino
  • Seth Dhonau (First Date, DCPA Cabaret) as Valentine/Second Officer
  • Mehry Eslaminia (The Taming of the Shrew, Colorado Shakespeare Festival) as Viola
  • Cameron Folmar (Cyrano De Bergerac, The Guthrie) as Sir Andrew Aguecheek
  • Runner Francisco (The Diary of Anne Frank, Arvada Center) as Curio/First Officer
  • Erick González (Native Gardens, Syracuse Stage) as Antonio
  • Sam Gregory (Sweat, DCPA Theatre Company) as Malvolio
  • Larry Hecht (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, DCPA Theatre Company) as Sir Toby Belch
  • Rodney Lizcano (American Mariachi, DCPA Theatre Company) as Priest
  • Krystel Lucas (The Christians, DCPA Theatre Company) as Olivia
  • Larry Paulsen (The 39 Steps, DCPA Theatre Company) as Feste/The Fool)
  • Alex Purcell (Romeo & Juliet, Smith Street Stage) as Sebastian
  • Kim Staunton (Ruined, DCPA Theatre Company) as Maria
  • Kirk Taylor (What Men Don’t Tell, Beacon Theatre) as Fabian/Captain

Creative team:

  • Directed by Chris Coleman
  • Original music composed by Tom Hagerman of DeVotchKa
  • Scenic design by Rob Morgan (Two Degrees, DCPA Theatre Company)
  • Costume design by Kevin Copenhaver (Sweat, DCPA Theatre Company)
  • Lighting design by Charles MacLeod (Sweat, DCPA Theatre Company)
  • Sound design by Jason Ducat (The Constant Wife, DCPA Theatre Company)
  • Music direction by Angela Steiner (Indecent, DCPA Theatre Company)
  • Choreography by Grady Soapes (Anna Karenina, DCPA Theatre Company)
  • Voice and dialect coaching by Kathy Maes (A Doll’s House and A Doll’s House, Part 2, DCPA Theatre Company)
  • Dramaturgy by Doug Langworthy
  • Casting by Harriet Bass and Grady Soapes, CSA
  • Stage management by Kurt Van Raden (Stage Manager) and Corin Davidson (Assistant Stage Manager)

Director Video bonus: Chris Coleman talks about Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night: Ticket information

Shakespeare’s Twelfth NightHilarious hijinks. Unrequited love. Gender-bending disguises. The clumsiness of romance is on display in every way in this Shakespearean comedy. Separated from her twin brother after a shipwreck in Illyria, Viola disguises herself as a man to work in the local household of Duke Orsino. The closer they become, the more Viola gets acquainted with Orsino’s crush, the beautiful noblewoman Olivia. Much to their dismay (and to your delight), the trio is inevitably thrust into a love triangle of mistaken identity and wanton foolishness. Overflowing with quick wit and titillating trysts, this standout play by The Bard is sure to please with its captivating characters and one of his most dynamic heroines

  • Dates: Performances November 15-December 22 (Opens November 22)
  • Where: Space Theatre
  • Genre: Romantic comedy with music
  • Tickets: Start at $30 and can be purchased at 303-893-4100 or in person in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex at 14th and Curtis streets or online by clicking here:

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

Video bonus: Meet Mehry Eslaminia

Take a look back at our “Meet the Cast” video when Mehry Eslaminia appeared in the world premiere of ‘Appoggiatura.’