Twelfth Night (Villanova/PA Shakespeare Festival) —2005

The romantic songs and incidental music for this 2005 production of Twelfth Night at Villanova Theatre were also used in the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival in 2008. Both productions were subtly and inventively directed by James J. Christy.

Director James J. Christy did not set his production of Twelfth Night in a specific time and place. “We’re generating our own fantasyland made up of different bits and pieces; we’re working on an eclectic design that features a modern sensibility with hints of period,” said Christy. “I am deliberately avoiding a big concept and am working organically, centering the production on what is available and a part of our fantasy.”

“Composer Robert Maggio has created beautiful, classical sounds that complement the sentimental and romantic feelings in the play,” Christy continued. “But this music is mixed with popular styles from the 20th century, including Cole Porter, blues, and folk rock to give it irony and wit. Among the cast we happen to have four guitarists and a violinist, so the music is composed around these instruments.”


In addition, Christy has emphasized the musical aspects of the play by using live musicians onstage, playing bass, guitar, violin and cello to provide musical interludes and settings for the songs by Philadelphia composer Robert Maggio. As Feste, the jester who always knows the score, Anthony Lawton gets to sing the songs (“O Mistress Mine,” “Come Away, Death”) that provide some of the funniest and most poignant moments of the evening.

Susan L. Pena, Reading Eagle

Robert Maggio’s sweet, threading score, played live by a string trio as an aphrodisiac for the ears. Anthony Lawton’s gymnastic, prowling Feste, a welcome change from typically goofy, crazy interpretations of Olivia’s favorite fool. Lawton is a pirate, a panther, a pinpoint Puck. His songs about love’s slavery and life’s bad weather have a melancholy that sweeps like an inky cloud.

Geoff Gehman, The Morning Call