Rocking the Bard’s World


If, like so many others, you find yourself often lamenting the fact that Shakespeare lived too early to pen the book for a loopy Three Dog Night musical, you can now rest easier. The Troubadour Theater Company has righted this grievous historical injustice with “Twelfth Dog Night,” currently kenneled at Burbank’s Falcon Theatre.

Blending the Bard, vaudevillian shtick and satiric production numbers based on the iconic rock band’s hard-drivin’ hits, this freewheeling adaptation is the latest inspired offering from the loose confederation of writers and theater artists behind the cult hit “Butt Pirates of the Caribbean.”

Here, the troupe displays the same irreverent wit and deceptively sophisticated parody in a more family-friendly package based on “Twelfth Night.” Looking nothing alike, Viola (Michelle Anne Johnson) and Sebastian (Kent Davis) are the noble twins from Palmdale who set sail on a three-hour tour, only to find themselves shipwrecked and separated in exotic Burbank--where town criers alert the populace to traffic delays caused by jackknifed oxen and overturned horses-and-buggies.


Detours are frequent as the company rarely lets undue fidelity to Shakespeare’s text constrain its antics. If there’s a way to shoehorn stilts, trampolines, clowning, improv and even a game of “Simon Says” into the story, the Troubadors will. If not, they’ll do it anyway.

Nevertheless, the Troubadours also prove they know the rules even when they’re breaking them. Rachel Dara Wolfe’s Olivia is equally adept with formal iambic pentameter and broad slapstick as she fends off the unwanted advances of lovesick Duke Orsino (Briant Wells) while lecherously pursuing the disguised Viola. And far afield as the jokes may wander, director Matt Walker maintains a link back to the play, pulling the reins from his onstage emcee role as the jester Feste. B.K. Kennedy, Carissa Barnett, Michael Sulprizio, Timothy Groff, Jennifer Jean and Guillermo Robles supply the supporting pirates, knights, servants, townsfolk and homies.

To the raucous accompaniment of a live rock band, the cast struts its best Elizabethan stuff through “Just an Old Fashioned Love Song” and “Joy to the World.” The sight of imprisoned Malvolio (Rick Batalla) belting out “One (Is the Loneliest Number)” is truly inspired. All in all, a splendid excuse to party like it’s 1599.



“Twelfth Dog Night” Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank. Matinees Monday-next Thursday, 2 p.m.; starting Jan. 6, Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Ends Jan. 16. $12. (818) 955-8101. Running time: 2 hours.