Alison Russo as Viola, Nora Eschenheimer as Feste Source: Cat Laine

Review: The Gamm Theatre Delights with Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night'

Will Demers READ TIME: 3 MIN.

Nearly 20 years after The Gamm Theatre's popular and critically acclaimed production of "Twelfth Night," Artistic Director Tony Estrella, along with Associate Artistic Director Rachel Walse, revisit William Shakespeare's delightfully funny romp about misdirected love, mistaken identity, and impossible situations. Selecting a cast of versatile talent, Estrella and Walshe (directing in tandem) have crafted a slick and colorful night of theater that will not disappoint.

Twins Sebastian (Michael Liebhasuer, Isaac in "Describe the Night") and Viola (Aliso Russo, Dora in "An Octoroon") are lost at sea and become separated. Aided by a sea captain (John Cormier, Charles in "Hangmen"), Viola is disguised as a page and enlisted in the service of Duke Orsino (Cedric Lilly, Yeshua in "Paul), who is in love with Olivia (the amazing Donnla Hughes from "Describe the Night"), who is mourning the recent loss of her brother. Olivia's servant Malvolio (an incredibly funny Deb Martin, Oberon in "Midsummer Night's Dream") is at odds with several characters who conspire to make her believe that Olivia has fallen for her.

Deb Martin as Malvolio, background L to R: Kelby Akin as Sir Toby Belch, Jason Quinn as Fabian
Source: Cat Laine

Sir Toby Belch (Kelby T. Akin) and Sir Andrew Aguecheek (the very funny and talented Jeff Church), as well as Fabian (a delightful Jason Quinn) instruct Maria (Rachel Dulude) to pen a love letter purportedly written by Olivia to the pompous Malvolio. The hideous joke is payback for her chastising their late-night drinking and revelry at the house. Meanwhile, Sebastian (Liebhauser) is rescued by Antonio (Ben Pereira), who had previously fought against the Duke; but his admiration for the shipwrecked man convinces Antonio to accompany him to Illyria in search of his lost sister. Hilarity ensues as various plots and subplots collide, bookended by some narration and songs from Jester Feste (Nora Eschenheimer, looking adorable).

The whole ensemble works delightfully in tandem with the Bard's ridiculous, fun play that, at its heart, is all romantic comedy. One doesn't need to be a Shakespeare scholar to understand what's happening, and there are enough twists to keep modern audiences engaged. It makes for a really fun night of theater, in part because the Gamm understands the intricacies of Shakespeare's more humorous work and makes each of these characters more fun than the next. You'll not be able to stifle a giggle or a laugh out loud during this hilarious production.

"Twelfth Night" is running through April 14th at The Gamm Theatre, 1245 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick, RI 02886. For information or tickets call 401-723-4266 or visit

by Will Demers

Read These Next