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Royal Players, Shakes to present Twelfth Night

By Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer

This article was published February 4, 2018 at 12:00 a.m.

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The Royal Players and Saline County Shakes will present Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare, Thursday through Feb. 11 and Feb. 15-18 at The Royal Theatre in Benton. Viola/Cesario, left, played by Savannah Price, and her twin brother, Sebastian, right, played by Nicolas Bell, are reunited during a surprise encounter. Just as surprised at seeing the twins are Countess Olivia, seated, played by Claudia Moskova-Cremeens, and Duke Orsino, played by Andrew McBride.

BENTON — The Royal Players and Saline County Shakes will present William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, beginning Thursday, at The Royal Theatre in downtown Benton.

Curtain time is at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and again Feb. 15, 16 and 17, and at 2 p.m. Feb. 11 and 18. Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for students in the 12th grade and younger, and $10 for senior citizens 60 and older and active members of the military.

Tickets may be purchased online at theroyalplayers.com. For reservations, call (501) 315-5483. There is a special for teachers who accompany class groups; for information, call the above number or email theroyalplayers@gmail.com.

“Teachers who arrange for school groups of at least 10 to attend a performance will receive two free passes for the same performance,” said Susan Dill of Benton, past president of The Royal Theatre Board of Directors. “If teachers are unable to arrange a group, we encourage them to encourage students to attend in order to support Shakespeare live in Saline County.”

Michael Bartholmey of North Little Rock will direct the local production of Twelfth Night, which has been adapted to approximately two hours in length. Bartholmey has directed, and performed, with both The Royal Players and Saline County Shakes, which he co-founded five years ago. He is a 2012 graduate of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a degree in theater arts. He most recently directed Oliver! at The Royal Theatre.

Bartholmey said Twelfth Night, which he described as “family-friendly,” is a classic romantic comedy of mistaken identities.

When Viola ends up shipwrecked on the opposite side of an island from her twin brother, Sebastian, she decides to disguise herself as a boy. Meanwhile, Orsino, a duke on the island, is attempting to woo the Countess Olivia. Olivia falls in love with Orsino’s messenger, Cesario, who is really Viola in disguise and who is in love with the duke. All is set right when the twins finally meet face to face.

“The biggest challenge of this play was trying to find the right people to cast as Viola and Sebastian,” said Bartholmey, who also plays Fabian in the play. “We had to find a boy and a girl who looked fairly similar so they could appear pretty convincingly as twins.

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job of it,” he said, smiling.

Savannah Price of Alexander portrays Viola. Price is a senior at Bryant High School.

“I am so excited and thankful to Michael for the incredible opportunity to play this part, which is my first major role,” Price said. “This is the second time I have been in a play here at The Royal. I was in All Shook Up (presented in August 2017).

“This play is great fun,” she said. “It’s fantastic.”

Nicholas Bell of Benton plays Sebastian.

“This is the first time I have appeared onstage,” said Bell, who graduated three years ago from UALR with a degree in computer programming and studio art. “I auditioned and got the part. I joined for the fun. I’ve always wanted to be onstage. I am in love with every second of it.”

Claudia Moskova-Cremeens of Little Rock is also a newcomer to The Royal Theatre, although she is not new to acting. She plays Countess Olivia.

“I saw Michael in Titanic: The Musical (at the Weekend Theatre in Little Rock) and knew I wanted to work with him,” said Moskova-Cremeens, who was recently seen as Tatiana in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Studio Theatre in Little Rock and as Morticia in The Adams Family and Estelle in No Exit, both at the Weekend Theatre.

“I auditioned, got lucky and got this part. This is a very frustrating role,” she said of her character, Olivia. “My character really does not get what she wants until the end.”

Andrew McBride of Benton, a junior at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, plays Duke Orsino.

McBride has been performing at The Royal Theatre since 2012. He is a music major at Henderson with minors in theater and German. This semester, he is co-principal euphonium player in the wind ensemble and is performing in his third Shakespeare show.

Other cast members include the following:

• Joshua Grandon of Benton as Malvolio.

• Robert Minton of Benton as Sir Toby.

• Hillary Bell of Benton as Sir Andrew.

• Rebecca Minton of Benton as Maria.

• Destiny Marchese of Little Rock as Feste, the Fool.

• Delany Leslie of Benton as Antonia.

• Cindy Bell of Benton as a captain.

• Isabelle Marchese of Alexander as Valentine.

• D.J. Pelle of Bauxite as Curio and a sheriff.

For more information on The Royal Players and Twelfth Night, which is sponsored by Regions Bank, visit theroyalplayers.com or call (501) 315-5483. The Royal Theatre is at 111 S. Market St. in Benton. More information is also available on Facebook.

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