Performing Arts: Theater
June 29, 2014
Once again, Three Day Hangover has pulled off the seemingly impossible and have created a modernized version of Shakespeare that is hip enough to attract new audiences while being faithful to the Bard’s language and story. This time they tackle Twelfth Night, or (as they re-title it) Sir Toby Belch’s Lonely Hearts Club Cabaret.

The performance venue is the third floor of McGee’s Pub on 55th street. The company welcome audience members in with energy, gusto, alcohol, karaoke, and general bawdiness. Once the show starts, it turns into a mix of Shakespeare’s story of a shipwrecked young woman’s adventures and a downtown dive bar with the coolest set of regulars and rockinest band you ever experienced.

The night I went, my tablemate asked me at intermission if I thought someone unfamiliar with the play would be able to follow the story that Shakespeare wrote. After pondering the question for awhile (and watching the second half of the show), I realized that the answer was probably no. I also realized that that was the magic TDH was creating.

Sir Toby Belch’s Lonely Hearts Club Cabaret isn’t Twelfth Night – it’s an entirely new thing based off that play. And as such, audience members familiar with it will be able to follow along and enjoy a new telling of an old story, especially given how deft the cast is with Shakespeare’s language.

However, audience members unfamiliar with Twelfth Night will have the amazing experience of seeing love unfold in a karaoke bar in NYC complete with drag queens, drunken revelry, poetic language, and excellent covers. If and when they encounter another production of Twelfth Night later, it won’t (probably) be anything like they remember from this night, but it will be familiar enough for them to follow, engage, and enjoy. And that’s magic.

Directed and adapted by Beth Gardiner, the cast is excellent. Laura Gragtmans as Viola gives a standout performance, as does Lloyd Mulvey as Orsino and Ben Charles as Andrew Aguecheek. There’s magic happening in midtown – go be enchanted.
Kelly Johnston

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