Tina Packer is a sorceress, a conjurer, a Doctor Frankenstein who got it all right in the end. patiently year after year, from behind the granite fastness of the Berkshires she has found the artists, inspired the directors, built the audience and secured a venue. A home in other words, fit for the immortal bard of Stratford on Avon, year after year nigh un-noticed the little old ladies from Long Island and Hudson Counties, the hep families, the debased aesthetes like me stream into Lenox imbibe the years's offerings and then leave heartened, fortified and ready for any deed.
This year Jonathan Croy a long standing member of the company directs a hi-freakin-larious version of "Twelfth Night, Or What You Will". This is the sort of comedy that S&C can execute in their sleep but don't think that means the company is resting on their laurels, trust me they do this sumbitch up big. Kudos to exuberant scenery chewer Elizabeth Raetz as Olivia, otherwise a Lovelorn Duchess who chases girl-disguised-as-boy Viola with all the subtlety of the Coyote's pursuit of the Road Runner. In her they have a actress with a deft talent for comedy, both the clever repartee and the well time pratfall she is a keeper believe me. Merritt Janson's Viola is no slouch either, cute, winsome, blessed with impeccable timing and a face seemingly carved by the Gods of Theater for shameless mugging, another keeper to be sure.
Ah it just did my heart good to see Johnny Lee Davenport (AKA "Mister Thunder and Lightning") up on the big stage of the Founders Theater, sure he did double time in smaller supporting roles but he is a treasure to the legit theater, a big confidant stentorian ahhhhctorrrr who has no fear whatsoever of making a fool of himself in search of big larfs. For such as these did Shakespeare take pen in hand all those centuries ago.
In fact Twelfth Night is clearly Jonathan Croy's love letter to the imperial glory days of Chuck Jones' Looney Tunes' animated shorts...I can pay it no higher praise, sell the house, sell the spouse, sell the kids, make flank speed to the open sea, whatever it takes to get to Lenox Ma. to see Twelfth Night, you will not be sorry.