Hathaway, McDonald, White and Esparza Open Twelfth Night in Central Park June 25

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25 Jun 2009

<I>Twelfth Night</I> stars Audra McDonald and Anne Hathaway
Twelfth Night stars Audra McDonald and Anne Hathaway
Joan Marcus

The music-filled Shakespeare in the Park production of Twelfth Night, starring Anne Hathaway, Audra McDonald, Julie White and Raul Esparza, opens at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park June 25.

Daniel Sullivan, the Tony-winning director of Proof, directs an ensemble of stage, screen and musical theatre veterans in Shakespeare's comedy of mistaken identity and mismatched lovers that began performances June 10. Twelfth Night, a production of The Public Theater, runs through July 12.

Academy Award-nominated actress Hathaway ("Rachel Getting Married") stars as Viola, who washes onto the verdant shores of Illyria and endeavors to disguise herself as a pageboy in the service of Duke Orsino, portrayed by four-time Tony nominee Raúl Esparza (Company, Speed-the-Plow). Disguised as Cesario, Viola finds herself the object of Lady Olivia's giddy affections, played by four-time Tony winner Audra McDonald (110 in the Shade, Master Class, Ragtime). When Viola's twin brother Sebastian, Stark Sands (Journey's End), is also swept onto Illyria's shores, Shakespeare's midsummer madness ensues.

The evening also boasts comic turns from Tony-winning actress Julie White (The Little Dog Laughed) as Maria, two-time Tony nominee David Pittu (What's That Smell?) as the fool Feste, Hamish Linklater (The Busy World Is Hushed) as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Jay O. Sanders (Midsummer Night's Dream) as Sir Toby Belch, Michael Cumpsty (Sunday in the Park with George) as Malvolio, as well as Herb Foster (A Midsummer Night's Dream) as Valentine, Kevin Kelly (Much Ado About Nothing) as Sea Captain, Baylen Thomas (Cyrano de Bergerac) as Curio and Jon Patrick Walker (Young Frankenstein) as Fabian.

Completing the ensemble are Charles Borland, Andrew Crowe, Steve Curtis, Clifton Duncan, David Kenner, Leslie Harrison, Slate Holmgren, Christopher Layer, Robin LeMon, Dorien Makhloghi, Ray Rizzo, Julie Sharbutt and Zach Villa.



Joining in the merriment are the Brooklyn-based folk-rock band Hem, who have composed the original score for this latest incarnation of Twelfth Night. Band members include vocalist Sally Ellyson, pianist Dan Messe, and guitarists Gary Maurer and Steve Curtis.

The production team includes John Lee Beatty (scenic design), Jane Greenwood (costume design), Peter Kaczorowski (lighting design), Acme Sound Partners (sound design), Rick Sordelet (fight director) and Mimi Lieber (choreography).

Shakespeare in the Park most recently staged Twelfth Night in 2002, starring Jimmy Smits, Julia Stiles, Kathryn Meisle and Zach Braff. Additional stagings have featured Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer (1989); Kim Greist, F. Murray Abraham and Peter MacNicol (1986); and Barbara Barrie and Ralph Waite (1969).

Performances of Shakespeare in the Park are Tuesday-Sunday at 8 PM. Tickets are free and are available on the day of the performance (two per person) at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park beginning at 1 PM, or by entering the Public's online ticketing lottery at PublicTheater.

The closest entrances to the Delacorte are located at 81st Street and Central Park West or 70th Street and Fifth Avenue.