The Staples Players’ “Twelfth Night” cast steps out, from left, Henry Carson, Max Ardrey, Madelyn Spera, Samantha Edwards, James Dobin-Smith and Matthew Bukzin. / Photos by Kerry Long
Rehearsing “You’re the Worst” are, from left, Melody Stanger, Henry Carson and Sophia Betit.

WESTPORT — “If music be the food of love, play on.”

The Staples Players, taking to heart that famous declaration from Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” will stage a new version of the romantic comedy set to a contemporary musical score this weekend and next.

Performances are planned at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 17-18; at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 19; at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 24, and at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March. 25. The show will be staged at the high school, 70 North Ave. To purchase $20 tickets online, click here

Left photo: Nikki Sternberg and Cameron Mann rehearse Sebastian’s Soliloquy. At right: clockwise from top right, Ella Grace Worraker, Chloe Carson, Imogen Medoff, Nea Hochman and Sorel Kennedy.

Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” also known as “What You Will,” was written around 1601-02. But its themes, according to co-director David Roth, are relevant today. “It’s a comedy about identity, self-discovery and — that classic theme — love,” he said in a publicity release.

Sebastian Gikas as Count Malvolio.

This production of “Twelfth Night” features a “jazz-funk” score by composer/lyricist Shaina Taub. “We discovered Shaina Taub a couple of years ago and were enthralled by her inventive music — it’s catchy, it’s clever,” Roth said of the play’s musical treatment.

“Anyone who thinks, ‘Oh, Shakespeare is boring,’ need not be worried with this show,” co-director Kerry Long said in the release. 

“The music is jazzy, poppy, a little bit of funk thrown in. The scenes are from Shakespeare’s script, told in his language. The songs are written in modern English,” Long added. “You’d think it wouldn’t work, but the two styles meld together well.” 

To help the Staples Players prepare for the production, Taub visited the school and spent two hours with the cast, offering insights about the show and her career path as an actor-writer.

James Dobin-Smith as Orsino, left, and Quinn Mulvey as Viola. 

The Staples Players’ double cast for performances of “Twelfth Night” includes:

Viola: Samantha Edwards and Quinn Mulvey

Olivia: Madelyn Spera and Nikki Sternberg

Maria: Jackie Peterson and Melody Stanger

Orsino: James Dobin-Smith

Malvolio: Ben Herrera and Sebastian Gikas

Toby: Henry Carson

Sebastian: Max Ardrey and Cameron Mann

Fabian: Charles Watson and Finley Chevrier

Andrew: Matthew Bukzin and Cooper Sadler

Feste: Sophia Betit

Antonio: Ian Patton and Yusef Abdallah

Illyrian officiant: Peyton Lampugnale

Illyrian mail person: Will McCrea

Illyrian attenant: Addie Purcell

First officer: Sorel Kennedy

Second officer: Drew Andrade

The Illyrian Dozen: Chloe Carson, Adelia Purcell, Peyton Lampugnale, Kaya Arava, Nea Hochman, Josy Pitaro, Sorel Kennedy, Jayden Saenz, Alya Namias, Zoe Schwartz, Alyssa Lee and Imogen Medoff.

In addition to co-directors Roth and Long, the “Twelfth Night” production team includes music director Luke Rosenberg, choreographer Rachel MacIsaac, technical director Jeff Hauser, set designer Jordan Janota and Christie Stanger, costumes.

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Ben Herrera as Count Malvolio with the “Twelfth Night” cast.
Ella Grace Worraker, Henry Carson, Cooper Sadler and Jackie Peterson bring on the laughs.


In conjunction with “Twelfth Night” performances, the Staples Players and the Staples Players Booster Organization plan more sustainable concession practices by transitioning away from single-use plastics during the play’s run.

Instead of selling single-use plastic water bottles — the sales money helps to cover Staples Players’ production costs — the concessions will be selling water in BPA-Free water containers. The aluminum cans/bottles are created from 68 percent recycled materials and can be recycled again.

“This change represents a small but important commitment to identifying sustainable alternatives for all Staples High School theater productions,” the groups said in a press statement.