Jeff Minden, front, center, Peter Bale, Anthony O'Neal, Edward Stiner, Julianna Gibbons and Tyler Friedrickson act out a scene from Twelfth Night, to be performed by Keizer Homegrown Theater July 20-23. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)

Jeff Minden, front, center, Peter Bale, Anthony O’Neal, Edward Stiner, Julianna Gibbons and Tyler Friedrickson act out a scene from Twelfth Night, to be performed by Keizer Homegrown Theater July 20-23. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Come to Keizer Homegrown Theatre’s production of Twelfth Night ready to laugh.

“This show is a ridiculous romp,” Director Linda Baker said. “[William] Shakespeare didn’t take it very seriously, I think, so we’re not either.”

Baker said the comedy comes from her cast.

“Really what I have here is 23 people who are really nice people, really good actors and everybody is bringing their A-game. You give them an idea and the general response is, ‘Yes and…’ It’s just hysterical. You don’t have to yank anything out of anybody. It’s much easier to pull people down than it is to prop them up and nobody on this show has to be propped up.”

Humor also comes from  the pirates, which were added by Dan Hayes back when McNary High, under Baker’s direction, performed Twelfth Night.

The annual Shakespeare in the Park show takes place July 20-23 at Keizer Rotary Amphitheater at Keizer Rapids Park. The opening act, a Green Show featuring pirates singing, dancing and juggling begins at 6:30 p.m. The play starts at 7.  Admission is free but donations are gladly accepted.

Twelfth Night tells the story of Viola, a young noblewoman and her twin brother, Sebastian, who are shipwrecked and separated in a storm. Viola washes ashore and disguises herself as a young man, calling herself Cesario. She finds work in the household of Duke Orsino who makes her his page and sends her to deliver love messages to Lady Olivia, but Olivia falls in love with Cesario (who is really Viola). Viola, meanwhile has fallen in love with her master, Orsinio who is seriously concerned when he finds himself attracted to her because, well, he thinks she is the boy Cesario.

Orsinio and Viola are played by husband and wife Jeffrey and Amanda Watson, who met during a Shakespeare class at Mt. Hood Community College.

Amanda was a student of Baker’s at McNary and her family has stayed involved in the Keizer summer shows. Her kids were in A Midsummer Night’s Dream last year and Jefferey played Mark Antony in Julius Caesar in 2014.

“It’s exciting to have an opportunity to work with an organization that trusts it actors well enough that a large time investment isn’t mandatory,” Jeffrey said. “People who are looking for a work-life balance like my wife and I with three small children, it’s very difficult to commit to the schedules that are required for most companies. It’s very attractive to have a group that trusts its actors and it’s very attractive to have a group of actors that are trustworthy enough that that works.”

Jeffrey is enjoying being part of a large cast.

“To be part of an ensemble where it’s more about how can I set up my fellow actors for them to have a successful moment on stage rather than how do I memorize these seven pages of me talking in a row without anyone interrupting me, it’s a different challenge and a more fun challenge,” he said.

Baker offered the part of Sir Toby Belch to Edward Stiner almost as soon as she met him.

Stiner got into acting after his young son, Nathan, came to him wanting to be a film actor. Stiner was sitting in the back of one of his son’s classes, waiting for it to finish, when he was asked to take the stage for the first time in his life because the teacher needed more people for a scene.

Next thing he knew, Stiner was playing Uncle Billy in Theatre Outreach’s rendition of It’s a Wonderful Life at Chemeketa Community College in December, 2011.

“I look back at my high school yearbook and they did have a theater there but I didn’t know a thing about it,” said Stiner, who also has an agent and has been in television shows Portlandia and Leverage as well as the first Twilight movie. He has 22 acting credits on his IMDB page.

Stiner came to 2016 auditions in Keizer last November and agreed to do two shows. In May, he played Victor LePewe in Drop Dead.

“It’s a whole other world of people pretending to be someone they’re not,” Stiner said. “It’s a whole lot of fun. These people (Keizer Homegrown actors) are worth getting to know.”

The rest of the Twelfth Night cast includes Tanner Purkey as Curio, Zach Baker as Valentine, Lyndon Zaitz as Sea Captain, Julianna Gibbons as Maria, Tyler Fredrickson as Sir Andrew Arguecheek, Linda Cashin as Fool, Kristen Sprauer as Olivia, Jeff Minden as Malvolio, Ariel Parker as Antonia the Pirate Queen, Justin Wanner as Sebastian and Elizabeth Ming as Olivia’s Servant.

Rebecca Nielson, Peter Bale, Craig Will, Gloria White, Cory Sullivan, Jamie Rodgers, Ronan Baker, Steaven McKnight, Megan Cox, Liz Ming and Caroline Ming are all playing pirates. David Berrier is building the set.

No outside food or drink is allowed at the amphitheater. Keizer Rotary will have a concession stand. The troupe recommends bringing a blanket or jacket as it gets cold when the wind off the river blows in the evening, even on warm days.