Few summer activities compete with well-performed Shakespeare under a gazebo at twilight. For those who have yet to see the Marietta Summer Theater Festival’s Twelfth Night, hurry up as there are two shows left this Saturday, June 30th and Sunday, July 1 at 8:30 p.m.. The hilarious play is performed at Muskingum Park with first come, first serve seating available – so be sure to bring a blanket or chairs if you show up a little late!

As will likely be the case with the second show in this festival also starting this weekend, Guys and Dolls, the production of Twelfth Night was both technically great and a fun audience experience. The play, while being at the surface a fairly straightforward comedy of mistaken identity and love hexagons, is engaging on multiple levels. As one of the actors, Cole Mazaher, says it’s “easy to apply to the modern world.” Cole is one one of the professional actors who just finished his degree in musical theater from Kent State. The cast and crew for both shows is made up of passionate community members and professionals from around the country who are honing in their craft.Shakespeare in the Park: Twelfth Night

Shakespeare in the Park: Twelfth NightCole also goes on to discuss his own character, Malvolio, who is tricked to wear loud yellow stockings to impress a lady. In a scene audiences often fine particularly comical, Cole mentions a deeper significance, this character is an easy target to make fun of and take the joke a bit too far, without many realizing. This depiction was particularly interesting, as I like most, found this character entertaining and didn’t think twice about laughing. Last summer, in the same music festival, Cole performed in the Merchant of Venice and Cabaret, other local notable roles were the title role in Tartuffe, a Marietta College production. Having acted in many area productions, Cole has met a lot of great people and as is clear from Twelfth Night, is ready to take his next step in his professional acting career, moving to New York City.

Director Andy Felt, a Marietta College professor, spent much of his theater career working with Shakespeare, from performing to directing and as Cole says, he is a “pretty dope” director. Other words that were tossed around are “genius” and “the best,” which are apparent in the quality of the production. Cole mentions his collaborative nature and listening to those he directs as part of this expertise. Andy Felt “understands theater and appreciates the process more than the final product.”Shakespeare in the Park: Twelfth Night

Shakespeare in the Park: Twelfth NightIn reflecting on this festival and the opportunities in the Mid-Ohio Valley, Cole says there are a lot of people who care here and support the arts – but to maintain, improve and attract more to this area, it is important to continue training young people. The festival, a partnership between Marietta College and the Peoples Bank Theatre, is clearly bringing talented performers to the area while creating fun and engaging theatrical experiences for the community. The Marietta Summer Theater Festival will only grow and continue to be a true asset to the Mid Ohio Valley.

So make sure to get to Twelfth Night on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at Muskingum Park and grab your tickets for Guys and Dolls (opening night Friday at People’s Bank Theater at 8:00 p.m.) “A play is like wine inside a bottle, you can decorate the bottle but the wine doesn’t change,” as Andy has told Cole and other actors. Well, this performance of Twelfth Night reminds me of a favorite wine bottle label, Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir!