Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Lions in Illyria. It was directed by Amanda Delheimer Dimond. It was written by Robert Kauzlaric and based on William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. It was about two lions who were brother and sister named Violet (Brandi Lee) and Sebastian (Ryan Stajmiger). They are shipwrecked and split apart from each other and each thinks the other one is dead. They both come ashore onto a land called Illyria (Illyria!) and go in search of money and work. One of them, Sebastian, is washed up with the monkey sea captain Antonia (Kate McDermott) who used to be a pirate. And the other was washed up all alone and pretended to be a boy and she went to go and get work from the Duke/peacock Orsino (Mykele Callicutt). She is sent to go and woo his lover Olivia (McDermott), who was a gazelle. I liked how they paired the animals with the characters because when you really think about it you are like, "Yeah, Duke Orsino does really seem like a peacock" because he is basically so in love with himself and he does not know why Olivia does not love him. I thought that it was cool how they let children know the story of Twelfth Night at a young age but let it still have that kind of child-like air to it. I thought this was a very fun show. It showed a playful side to Shakespeare and I really liked that.
I liked most of the changes they had from the original Twelfth Night, like how they made them all animals. Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Stajmiger) is sort of a dodo in the original play, so I thought it was awesome how they made him a literal dodo in this play. Sir Toby Belch (Callicutt) is a warthog because he loves his alcohol and it makes him act in an insane way. But in this version they changed alcohol to candy. That was good because you don't want kids coming home and saying "I want some cakes and ale!" I think that Maria (Lee) is sort of like a hyena because she sets up all this stuff just to laugh and get a boyfriend. The lesson about bullying is not the same as in the original. In the original it is like "Bullying will hurt people, but they deserved it!" But they also slightly regret it in the end because they are like, "maybe we shouldn't have just thrown him in jail." Lions in Illyria was different because they made Sir Andrew Aguecheek Malvolio, so you feel sorry for him. That makes the bullying seem even worse. But the characters in the end say that they are sorry and they all become friends again. I think they should have kept the character of Malvolio and just made him a little less horrible. When Aguecheek is such a doofus it already seems like normal for him to dress up in a silly way. The fun of watching Malvolio is that you think, "I don't think he will ever dress up in that way, even for Olivia." But then Malvolio does dress up. Malvolio could have been an Ostrich because he is so stuck up. But Ostriches can still be slightly lovable, just like Malvolio.
The scene where Violet/Cesario really starts to get to know Olivia was very funny. When Olivia first actually sees Cesario she's like "Hello!" and you can see her face be like "I'm in love!" Seeing a gazelle in love is very fun. And then she takes the flowers from him and he says, can I have the flowers back, and she's like "No!" in a very angry tone. Because she just wants something to remember him. I also really liked the Monkey Pirate because who really thinks about monkey pirates? But once you start thinking about monkey pirates you can't stop thinking about monkey pirates and you have to google them and look at pictures and then your life is complete. As you see, after this show, I love monkey pirates! I thought that she did a great job of really expressing herself as a monkey. She would just yell at people like monkeys do when they are angry: "oo aa kk!!" Antonia is based on Antonio who is a former pirate who is very protective of Sebastian. Monkeys are protective of their children and themselves so they make that kind of noise all the time.
I loved the dance moves that Sir Andrew Aguecheek made. They were so old-fashioned and hilarious. Like they did a bit of a Charleston-like thing. And when Violet was supposed to be fighting him, they did a dance-off instead, which I thought was hilarious. I thought that Sir Andrew Aguecheek was a doofus but so lovable. And one reason he was so lovable was his old-style dance moves. I really liked how Sebastian was just like the Huginator. He just wanted to give people hugs to make them feel better. I thought it was very sweet when Violet was talking to Olivia and she said, "My brother used to believe in the power of hugs" and then she gave her a hug to make her feel better. And I thought that was very sweet because you saw that, because of Sebastian, Violet could help people.
Orsino was a really great character. I really liked the scenes where he really showed off his plumage, which was basically a ginormous fan, and strutted about in this very fancy robe (costumes by Izumi Inaba and props by Joe Schermoly). His sadness songs were genuine depressing music that were written in today's times which I thought was cool. I really liked the scene where he was listening to the depressing music because he was just so depressed but in a peacock way. It made you kind of sad for him, but the thing was that he was making it so dramatic that it was funny. I also really liked his Sir Toby Belch because it made the character kid-like, like a kid obsessed with candy. And that made it more relatable and I thought that that was fun.
People who would like this show are people who like hugs, candy, and pirate monkeys. I think people should definitely definitely go see this show because it is funny, relatable to children, and fun for the whole family. I really loved this show!
Photos: Suzanne Plunkett