Play on? Yes, there will be. And don’t mind if we do, as Everyman alumni past and present prepare for the main event – the production that will be the very first work on the stage of the brand new theatre.
The Ev’s artistic director Gemma Bodinetz is at the helm of Twelfth Night, which opens on March 8 and runs until April 5. Two members of the celebrated Everyman company of 1974 – Nicholas Woodeson playing Malvolio and Matthew Kelly as Sir Toby Belch – will be joined by an ensemble of talent that includes Natalie Dew as Olivia and Jodie McNee and Luke Jerdy as twins Viola and Sebastian.
History lesson – the original Everyman opened in 1964 with a production of Henry IV part I, and its new incarnation follows suit by opening with a Shakespeare production. It sez ‘ere that “Gemma Bodinetz’s production blends the Everyman’s rebellious history with Twelfth Night’s themes of a night of misrule and naughtiness as a host of mismatched lovers and fools search for their own happy endings”. And the Everyman is possibly the only theatre in town in which that could make perfect sense.
The canny ‘play on’ marketing logo will be popping up all over the city and online (#PlayOn) to promote the production – taken, if you didn’t know, from one of Twelfth Night’s most famous lines, ‘if music be the food of love, play on’.
Bodinetz said: “Twelfth Night celebrates love, youth and a renegade spirit. It has an ensemble of characters as rich and idiosyncratic as any play in the English language and offered wonderful opportunities to assemble an extraordinary cast. It is a feast of a play, as poignant as it is hilarious and with Feste’s final lines: ‘And we’ll strive to please you every day’, it seemed to embody everything we have been talking about in terms of the new Everyman for many years now.”
And we’ll be treated to a cast who know their stuff; Adam Levy‘s Shakespearean credits include Henry V at the National Theatre, The Winter’s Tale for Propeller and Troilus and Cressida at the RSC. He was in The Kindness of Strangers at the Everyman in 2004 and will play Orsino in Twelfth Night. David Rubin, who plays Antonio, boasts previous Shakespearean credits including Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, The Winter’s Tale and Titus Andronicus at the RSC.
The ensemble includes a host of well-loved Liverpudlian actors. Pauline Daniels (Shirley Valentine and Held, Liverpool Playhouse), who appeared in Unprotected at the Everyman in 2006, takes her first Shakespearean role as Maria. Jodie McNee (King Lear, Shakespeare’s Globe; The Seagull, Arcola; The Empty Quarter, Hampstead Theatre) previously featured in Canary and When We Are Married at the Playhouse.
Liverpool theatregoers will surely recognise Neil Caple (The Misanthrope and The Hypochondriac, Liverpool Playhouse), who was in Macbeth in the final production before the theatre’s redevelopment, as Curio – he has featured many times on the Everyman stage, including Billy Wonderful (2009) and Unprotected (2006). Rock ‘n’ roll panto legend Adam Keast, last seen hanging from the rafters dressed as a prawn, is Andrew Aguecheek; Paul Duckworth (Beating Berlusconi, Urban Legend, The May Queen and Unprotected, Liverpool Everyman) plays Feste; while Alan Stocks (Dead Heavy Fantastic, Liverpool Everyman; Tartuffe and A Streetcar Named Desire, Liverpool Playhouse) is Fabian.
For more information and tickets, go to the Everyman’s website.