The Rochester Community Players’ “Twelfth Night,” directed by John R. Jaeger, was a bright patch of laughter and warmth in the cold of Rochester’s winter.

The oldest community theatre in New York State, the Rochester Community Players (RCP) has produced over 670 plays since its incorporation in 1924. This show marked RCP’s 677th performance in its 98th season.

Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night, or What You Will” is a classic comedy about flirtations, skullduggery, and mistaken identities. Every comedic moment was excellently played from beginning to end, breathing new life into the bawdy jokes and double entendres of the original text. The exultantly comedic Sir Toby Belch (Adam Urbanic) was perfectly  accompanied by the understated, but no less hilarious, Sir Andrew Aguecheek (David Kensek). Even the less revelrous characters were expertly played in both their dramatic and comedic moments. The noble lady Olivia (Michelle Blake) hilariously transformed from veil-clad and standoffish to positively giddy with a new love for Cesario. And the despairing Duke Orsino (Fred Pienkoski), spurned by Olivia, was a convincing yet humorous unrequited lover.

Of course, it would be amiss not to mention the star of the show, Viola (Lizz K. d.) as she was fantastically entertaining to watch, from her panicked reaction to Olivia’s advances to her own secret pining for her master Orsino. While perhaps not fully embracing the more homoerotic undertones of the original text (this show does, after all, features a cross-dressed woman), RCP presented a triangle of love and sexual tension that left the audience in stitches.

To continue their season, the Rochester Community Players: Irish Program will be presenting “The Night Alive” by Conor McPherson and directed by Jean Gordon Ryon. The production will run at the Multi-Use Community Cultural Center between March 24 and April 9, 2023. Additionally, every year RCP performs free productions of Shakespeare in the Park in early July at the Highland Park Bowl. Stay tuned to see which show they’ll perform this summer!

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