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Kentucky Shakespeare Celebrates Firsts With 'Twelfth Night'

Molly Sensenbrenner/Kentucky Shakespeare

Kentucky Shakespeare opens its first-ever winter production — and its first ticketed event — Tuesday with “Twelfth Night,” a comedy involving a shipwreck, separated twins and a practical joke that goes too far.

But in true Shakespearean comedy fashion, it all works out in the end, with lots of laughs, misunderstandings and pratfalls along the way.

The title of the play refers to the “12th night of Christmas,” the night before Epiphany in the Christian calendar, which was traditionally a festival that upended the normal order of things. This year, the Twelfth Night falls on Jan. 5, the opening night for the show.

The winter production is an addition to the company’s regular free outdoor summer season at Louisville's Central Park.

Much of the cost for the production has been covered by a grant from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, so the money garnered from ticket sales will help in producing the free summer plays.

The cast includes many familiar faces to Kentucky Shakespeare audiences, including Gregory Maupin, Abigail Bailey Maupin, Jon O'Brien and Jon Huffman. "Twelfth Night" also marks the Kentucky Shakespeare debut of Katherine Martin and Jordan Price, both of whom have been seen on other local stages including productions with StageOne, CenterStage and Pandora Productions.

Martin and Price play Viola and Sebastian, twins who are separated in a shipwreck at the beginning of the play, and each of whom believes the other is dead. For both actors, this is the first time they've had a leading role in a Shakespeare play.

“Everyone is just so amazing in this show that just sitting there and watching and hearing these words — half of which I don’t know if they’re made up words or real words, because they’re Shakespeare words — it’s really great,” Price said.

Martin said the main challenge for her as an actor is to integrate Shakespeare's language with her interpretation of the character, a plucky heroine who disguises herself as a boy to get closer to the man she loves.

“It's about trying to have your inner monologue — your own thought process — meld together with this beautiful elevated language, blend everything in a very honest way that tells a clear story,” said Martin.

“Twelfth Night” runs through Sunday at the Kentucky Center.

(Featured image via Molly Sensenbrenner/Kentucky Shakespeare)

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