Sail To Far Away Lands in Department of Theatre Production ‘Illyria’

Aathaven Tharmarajah, Niki Rahimi and Carson Peasley in Illyria. (Courtesy Todd Collins Photography)

Aathaven Tharmarajah, Niki Rahimi and Carson Peasley in “Illyria.” (Courtesy Todd Collins Photography)

By Evan K. Beesley, Arts Writer


Get swept away in the University of Utah Department of Theatre’s production of “Illyria.” Based on the legendary comedy, “Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare, this production will have you doubled over in laughter all the while feeling hopelessly romantic. 

“Twelfth Night” Set to Music 

“Illyria” is a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” set to a hauntingly beautiful contemporary score. A revised book, as well as the lyrics and music, were all written by Peter Mills, and first debuted in New York’s Central Park in 2001. The lush score evokes a sense of longing and romanticism that is only heightened by the Shakespearean speech and the intricacies of the actors’ performances.

While the plot remains relatively similar to the source material, the musical interludes help add real weight to the stakes of the show. Songs like “Olivia” and “Save One” serve to assist the audience in tracking the emotional journeys in the story, while cajoling you with the multiple and at times redundant reprises of “Cakes and Ale.” 

A Merry Band of Players

The show is carried by the talent of those portraying the outrageous inhabitants of Illyria. Opening the show and providing entertainment throughout is the fool Feste, played by Zoe Killian, who effortlessly sings through the many comedic ballads, showing an impressive vocal range and skilled flexibility. Alexander McConkie plays the ostentatious Duke Orsino with much bravado and to great success. The twins of the story Viola and Sebastian (Katie Calderone and Noah Bradford) both give terrific performances, especially Calderone whose display of emotion through her many ballads entranced the audiences.

The comedic foils Sir Toby Belch and Maria (Aathaven Tharmarajah and Niki Rahimi) did a fine job of lightening the mood throughout the show. However, the real humor of the show was brought by Matthew Tripp as Malvolio, a servant of Olivia’s. With the stand-out performance from Carson Quinn Peasley as the knight Sir Andrew Aguecheek, these two performers stole the show with their outrageous portrayal of the many peaks and valleys of love.

The costumes, beautifully designed by Kathryn Edwards, were a perfect homage to the Shakespearean comedies of the 1500s while adding a hint of 1940s inspiration. Set design by Sam Dalton was simple but well thought out and easily suited the swiftly changing destinations of the show. And finally the orchestra, magnificently led by Alex Marshall, beautifully underscored the musical and perfectly set the tone.

“Illyria” plays at the Babcock Theatre until April 3. Don’t miss your chance to see this side-splitting and heart-warming musical.


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