If Music Be the Food of Love

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On the evenings of December second and third, a variety of talented young actors took the Cresskill High School stage by storm in their production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The show is a comical one, centering around a young woman named Viola (Kayleigh Young) who is in a shipwreck and believes that it has killed her brother Sebastian (Lucas Chan). In order to protect herself in the land of Ilyria, where she has ended up, she disguises herself as a boy and assumes the name Cesario to work as a page for the Duke Orsino (Jack McCaffrey). As time goes by, she finds herself falling in love with the duke; this is unfortunate because he is in love with the Lady Olivia (Michelle Aguirre), who soon finds herself smitten with Viola/Cesario. This disastrous love triangle only goes downhill when, in an attempt to spite Olivia’s prudish steward Malvolio (Michael Socas), other members of Lady Olivia’s house, Sir Toby (Jacob Gorman), Sir Andrew (Ethan Rokjer), Fabian (Olivia Sher), Feste (Maddie Smith) and Maria (Sam Higgins), set up an elaborate trick to make Malvolio believe that Olivia is truly in love with him. These amusing events and the wonderful actors and actresses that portrayed them made for an extremely exciting and engaging show. However, such a great outcome did not occur overnight. After sitting down with the director, Mrs. Ofshinsky, the hard work and time that was dedicated to this play became very clear.

Often in high school productions, the same students return each year and a few new ones are added. The production of Twelfth Night saw a large influx of new cast members, and “not just younger cast members, but upperclassmen as well.” Mrs. Ofshinsky shared that she had been very excited about this, as “anytime we can open the stage to new people is really great.” Auditions for these students were the third week in September, making the entire process of creating the show about seven weeks long. This lengthy preparation may have been daunting to the many new cast members, but Mrs. Ofshinsky’s rehearsal strategy most likely helped them to ease into it. By starting with shorter rehearsals in the beginning, in which everyone learned to understand the play and their characters relationships with one another, and then moving into more tedious work and deeper development into the plot and the characters, the students were able to get more comfortable with the show and truly put forth their best work.“will give them an experience that they will hopefully remember for a long time.”

Since this was a Shakespeare play, the language was very different from modern English and “there was definitely some decoding involved. For some of the students,” Mrs. Ofshinsky said, “the play might as well have been in French.” Sam Higgins and Olivia Sher, two of the play’s leading cast members, agreed, that Shakespeare is “harder to memorize” as it “has a certain beat.” However, by taking some rehearsal time to sit and discuss the meaning of the words, and going to Mrs. Ofshinksy for help on their own time, the cast was able to understand what they were saying, and once they achieved that, the language became much more manageable. Sam and Olivia were certainly able to conquer the difficult text, and expressed that “nailing a line on stage, especially when the audience laughs,” and “having a really good run all together” was extremely rewarding. The rest of the cast had a similar experience, and Mrs. Ofshinsky was extremely happy about the amount of growth kids who had never portrayed these types of characters before, or any characters at all for that matter, achieved by the end of the seven weeks. The show was a great success, and has definitely set the bar high for future Shakespeare shows at Cresskill High School. Congratulations to the cast and crew on another excellent performance!


If Music Be the Food of Love