Theater Recommendation: YOUR OWN THING (Red Bull Theater at Peter Norton Symphony Space)

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by Tony Frankel on December 7, 2022

in Theater-New York

RED BULL THEATER’S ALL-STAR BENEFIT PERFORMANCE OF YOUR OWN THING
PLAYS THIS MONDAY DECEMBER 12

This Monday, December 12, 2022 at 7:30 at the Peter Norton Symphony Space — FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY — Red Bull Theater is set to rediscover the 1968 hit Off-Broadway rock musical Your Own Thing —  suggested by Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night — and to give it its the first New York presentation in decades with a star-studded cast lead by Eddie Cooper, Tony Award nominee Lilli Cooper, Tony Award-winner Santino Fontana, Olivier Award-winner Lesli Margherita, Simon Pearl, Michael Pilato, Jennifer Sánchez, and Vaden Thurgood.

Your Own Thing will also feature special appearances by Kate Burton, Michael Cerveris, Robert Cuccioli, Tovah Feldshuh, Richard Kind, Ken Page, Patrick Page, Laila Robins, Jay O. Sanders, Mary Testa, John Douglas Thompson, Michael Urie, and Bruce Vilanch.

With music & lyrics by Hal Hester and Danny Apolinar, and book adaptation by Donald Driver, the original production opened on January 13th 1968 at the Orpheum Theater, produced by Zev Bufman & Dorothy Love, where it ran for 933 performances. In the late 1960s, a raging storm shipwrecks a young music duo, twins Viola and Sebastian. The pair end up in the land of Illyria, which looks very much like New York City, and the rest is Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night–well, kind of. This hit rock musical ran Off-Broadway while Hair played uptown.

The setting for the play suggests a Shakespearean stage. Whilst Twelfth Night was “then”, Your Own Thing is very much “here and now”. The time is now, the place is in and about the city of Manhattan Island, Illyria where Orson is a theatrical agent and Olivia the operator of a discotheque. The confusion between Sebastian and Viola seems more probable given the fashion of both men and women having long hair. In this version, Viola and Sebastian, both rock singers have lost all their music in a shipwreck and coincidentally apply to the same agent when they seek work. Viola, informed that Orson requires a male singer for a rock group dresses as a boy and calls herself Charlie. When Orson send Charlie with a love letter to Olivia, the familiar complications follow. In the end Viola is engaged to Orson and Sebastian to Olivia. Sebastian is not at all fazed by the fact that Olivia is ten years older than he is. He believes in the creed that his band, The Apocalypse, promulgate, “do your own thing – or die”.

This Triple-Crown winner for Best Musical (1968 Drama Critics’ Circle Award), Best Production (1968 Outer Critics Circle Award) and Outstanding New Playwright (1968 Drama Desk Award) is directed by Gabriel Barre, with musical direction by Greg Pliska.

Proceeds help to make all of its programs possible. Tickets for this benefit event, which are now on sale, are $81.50 – $121.50 including fees (most tickets include tax-deductible donation).  To purchase tickets for this one-night-only event, visit redbulltheater.com/yourownthing. RED BULL THEATER, hailed as “the city’s gutsiest classical theater” by Time Out New York, brings rarely seen classic plays to dynamic new life for contemporary audiences, uniting a respect for tradition with a modern sensibility. Named for the rowdy Jacobean playhouse that illegally performed plays in England during the years of Puritan rule, Red Bull Theater is New York City’s home for dynamic performances of great plays that stand the test of time. With the Jacobean plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries as its cornerstone, the company also produces new works that are in conversation with the classics. A home for artists, scholars, and students, Red Bull Theater delights and engages the intellect and imagination of audiences, and strives to make its work accessible, diverse, and welcoming to all. We value and practice inclusiveness, equity, and diversity in all of our activities, and are committed to antiracist action. Red Bull Theater believes in the power of great classic stories and plays of heightened language to deepen our understanding of the human condition, in the special ability of live theater to create unique, collective experiences, and in the timeless capacity of classical theater to illuminate the events of our times. Variety agreed, hailing Red Bull’s work as: “Proof that classical theater can still be surprising after hundreds of years.”Since its debut in 2003 with a production of Shakespeare’s Pericles starring Daniel Breaker, Red Bull Theater has served adventurous theatergoers with Off-Broadway productions, Revelation Readings, and the annual Short New Play Festival. The company also offers outreach programs including Shakespeare in Schools bringing professional actors and teaching artists into public school classrooms; Bull Sessions, free post-play discussions with top scholars; and Classical Acting Intensives led by veteran theater professionals. During the pandemic, Red Bull created several new and ongoing programs to serve audiences and artists with our mission: RemarkaBULL Podversations, Online Readings, Seminars, and more.“The classics-shaking Red Bull Theater,” as Time Out NY has called it, has presented 20 Off-Broadway productions and nearly 200 Revelation Readings of rarely seen classics, serving a community of more than 5,000 artists and providing quality artistic programming to an audience of over 65,000. The company’s unique programming has received ongoing critical acclaim and has been recognized with Lortel, Drama Desk, Drama League, Callaway, Off-Broadway Alliance, and OBIE nominations and Awards.

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