The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Final curtain call: UMW Theatre’s “Twelfth Night” spring production closes out semester in Shakespearian style

4 min read
Five individuals on a stage, most dressed in short dresses with one on the far right, dressed in a split green and red outfit.

Featured in the foreground from left to right: Emma Magner ‘24 as Olivia and Kyleigh Friel ‘26 as Feste. | Photo courtesy of Geoff Green.


Staff Writer

William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” took the stage this past weekend as UMW’s Theatre Department’s final production of the semester. After a shipwreck leaving twins Viola and Sebastian separated and assumed dead, this romantic comedy toys with fake identities, mysteries, complex love scenarios and the notorious social battles prevalent in Shakespeare’s dynamic plays. 

After the shipwreck, Viola— played by senior theatre and English double major Maddie Baylor—adopts the disguise of a boy, deems herself “Cesario” and finds employment with Duke Orsino of Illyria—senior theatre and physics double major Mason Michael Clark. Meanwhile, Viola’s brother Sebastian—portrayed by Nathaniel Huff, a senior theatre major—survives the wreck with the help of Antonio, played by Cameron Zakreski, a senior computer science and theatre double major. 

The scenic design in the play was beautiful, and it engaged the audience with dynamic set pieces and lighting effects. In particular, the beach set, which is the main location the play took place in, was realistic and lifelike without having too many overwhelming sound or visual effects. 

“The back panels and the lighting to show the passage of time and the different locations without actually changing the set, I thought it was brilliant,” said freshman chemistry and math double major Emily Hart. 

In addition to the set design, the costuming department went above and beyond to clothe the actors in period-relevant pieces. 

“I really liked the costumes and props because they added something,” said freshman history major Ezra Harper. “It was clear that this was an original Shakesphere setting which added interesting detail to the production.” 

Even though Viola and Sebastian are separated by the incident, they both land in the kingdom of Illyria as they recover from the wreck and fall in love in its wake. 

Early in the play, Viola finds herself in a love triangle with Orsino who is smitten with Olivia—played by senior theatre major Emma Magner. However, Olivia is mourning the loss of her brother and doesn’t want to hear from Orsino; nor is she attracted to him. 

But when Orsino sends Cesario to see Olivia, she falls deeply in love with him, though Olivia is unaware of the identity that lies beneath the disguise. Meanwhile, Sebastian has also landed in Illyria accompanied by Antonio, a long-time enemy of Orsino.

Sir Toby Belch, a fan favorite played by senior theatre major Seth Drenning, offered a humorous break from the dramatic romances that unfolded on stage. He continuously made the audience laugh and engage, and according to Blaise Wingold, a junior theatre and communication and digital studies double major, his favorite part of the play was anything to do with Belch. 

“I think he’s really funny, he’s one of my favorite parts of the show,” said Wingold.  

Tension rose in the crowd when Sir Andrew Aguecheek—Belch’s friend who is played by sophomore undeclared major Lee Adams—and Cesario met to duel over Olivia. As they come together, a case of mistaken identity occurs as Sebastian arrives at the scene instead. Resembling his disguised twin sister, he engages in the duel only to be interrupted by Olivia who proposes to him, thinking he is Cesario. Shocked by her beauty, Sebastian agrees.  

In the meantime, Viola encounters Antonio who has been arrested and begs her for help, as he believes her to be Sebastian due to her disguise. Hearing the calls of her brother’s name, Viola sees a glimmer of hope in an eventual reunification with her twin. 

Hart said that all of the characters meeting each other was one of her favorite parts of the play, particularly when Viola and Sebastian meet face-to-face again. After abandoning Antonio, Viola, still disguised as Cesario, goes to Olivia’s house where she finds that the woman who was formerly enamored with her has married Sebastian. 

“I absolutely loved it. I loved when the characters all realized that there were two of them,” said Hart. 

The play ends in a beautiful wedding between Sebastian and Olivia and Viola and Orsino, resolving the cases of mistaken identity and bringing the lovers together.

During the show, the cast engaged the audience by breaking the fourth wall, peering out into the dark abyss of faces in the theatre to ask questions as if they were speaking to the audience. Additionally, some of the scenes began in the audience, which made it feel much more intimate—almost like you were in the show. 

Hart and Wingold both worked behind the scenes of the production and helped with catching the audience’s attention. Hart explained what she worked on for the play.

“A lot of what I did was helping to finalize the panels,” she said. “The teachers already had the foundations laid out, so we were putting glue and painting some of them—that kind of stuff.”

Wingold contributed to getting the audience to come see the show and engage on social media platforms through posts and humorous Instagram reels.

“I’m on the social media team for the theatre department, so we went in and took photos and did a video that has been turned into a trailer for the show,” said Wingold. 

“Twelfth Night” runs from April 11–21 with upcoming showings at 7:30 p.m on Saturday and a show at 2 p.m. on Sunday.