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Fights, wit and Shakespeare

March 22, 2012
By ZACH KUKKONEN - Features Editor/DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - One of Shakespeare's most popular comedies is coming to Michigan Technological University, and the Tech Theatre Company is making sure the Bard's work is well-performed.

From bringing in a stage combat coordinator to an original score, as well as costumes and sets made from scratch, audiences will come away impressed with the production.

"We have been in rehearsal since the beginning of the semester," Director Trish Helsel said. "We've been working with Barry Pegg, a retired faculty member from the humanities department, and he has sat down with the cast going through the script word by word, translating it for everyone.

"It's really been a wonderful experience," she continued. "There's something unique about this production."

The three sword fights in "Twelfth Night" are something Helsel is particularly proud of, as she brought in Zev Steinberg - a "fight coordinator" from Chicago - to work with the cast for two days in the art of stage combat. In rehearsing the fights, 30 seconds of fighting took an hour and a half to stage, according to a press release.

"(Rehearsing) has been a blast," Helsel said.

The period costumes for the show were all designed by a Tech costume design class, and the set was put together by guest designer Sarah Kirchner.

"The set is really beautiful," Helsel said.

The cast of 14 includes Rebecca Stadius, Dennis Kerwin and Charles Wallace. Original music for the production was created by Libby Meyer, and will permeate through the production.

"She's composed almost a complete score of music that plays incidentally through the show," Helsel said.

"Twelfth Night" is particularly close to Helsel's heart - one of the reasons she chose the show. She saw the play as part of a high school field trip, and has loved it ever since.

"It was the first Shakespeare play I ever saw and truly understood and enjoyed thoroughly," Helsel said. "Here at Tech, we wanted to do a comedy and Shakespeare, and for me, it was a no-brainer (to do) 'Twelfth Night.' I felt it would suit our actors and company best."

The play will take place at 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the McArdle Theatre on Michigan Tech's campus in Houghton. It continues next weekend, playing at 7:30 p.m. March 29 through 31 and 2 p.m. April 1.

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