REVIEW: “Twelfth Night” @ Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Barbara Waldinger
How exciting it is to see the revitalization of Pittsfield! Ever since the dark days following the closing of the GE plant, the city has been struggling to recover its stature. Now, rejuvenated by the appearance of theaters, art galleries, restaurants, stores, hotels and an ongoing commitment to community development and involvement, Pittsfield has been making a comeback. Recently, with the opening of Twelfth Night on the heels of a Third Thursday teeming with people of all ages, dancing, singing, eating, viewing pop-up performances and generally celebrating, Pittsfield has arrived.
This is the fourth season that director Enrico Spada has offered free Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park performances on the First Street Common. Beginning with Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2014, Spada went on to direct Romeo and Juliet in 2015 and The Tempest in 2016. In addition to leading sponsor The Feigenbaum Foundation, the company is generously supported by the City of Pittsfield, both financially and through its many volunteers, including churches, synagogues, schools, libraries and clubs.
Twelfth Night springs to life on a colorful, cartoon-like set designed by Ron Piazza, with many steps and high platforms that accommodate the entire cast of 14 actors, several of whom play multiple roles. Except for a blip during the final song, the sound system (designed by Enrico Spada and engineered by Jaramy Moran) serves the production well – amplified by their visible microphones, the actors can be heard throughout the park. Lighting designer Maia Robbins-Zust keeps the actors in view at all times – even Malvolio, purportedly locked up in a dark cell on a lower stage. Deborah Morris and Patrick Toole composed wonderful songs beautifully sung by Alexia Trainor, who accompanies herself on a ukulele. The costumes, designed by Stella Schwartz and assisted by JV Hampton-Van Sant, add jolts of color, humor and originality to the production.