Gunfight at the Illyria Corral
A Wild West Romantic Comedy With Music
Conceived and Created by David Grapes
Arrangements by Vince di Mura
8 Men & 12 Women
If music be the food of love, then get ready for a good ol’ ranch-style cookout of Shakespearean proportions, as a desert twister lands the Bard’s most beloved romantic comedy in the middle of the Wild West. It’s Gunsmoke meets the Globe Theatre as the delicate Viola must disguise herself as a young deputy in order to survive in a town populated by an amorous sheriff and his barbershop quartet of deputies, a vain saloon madam in mourning, a puritanical prairie parson, and a group of drunken pranksters still fighting the Civil War. This new adaptation contains both traditional Western cowboy music and some toe tappin original songs. This fun new take on Shakespeare’s classic comedy promises to be a riotous mix of mistaken identity, romance and music for the whole family – all topped off with a hilarious climactic high noon showdown at the Illyria
Gunfight at the Illyria Corral – Musical Numbers
Blow Wind Blow – Quartet
Orsino’s Theme – Quartet
Blue Bonnet Girl Quartet
Blue Bonnet Girl (Reprise) – Quartet
You are Always in my Heart – Olivia
Trail Dreaming – Quartet
Orsino’s Theme – Quartet
Lovesong of the Waterfall – Quartet
You are Always in my Heart (Reprise) – Olivia and Ladies
Cool Water – Quartet
Orsino’s Theme – Quartet
Cool Water – Reprise Quartet
Power in the Blood – Malvolio and Ensemble
O Mistress Mine – Festus
Home on the Range – Quartet
Blue Bonnet Girl – Reprise Quartet
Come Away Death – Festus
Two Seated Saddle and a One Gated Horse – Olivia and Ladies
Bar Fight Rag Instrumental
Ridin the Range With You – Quartet
Ridin the Range With You (Reprise) – Quartet
Gun Fight Underscore – Instrumental
Transition Music – Instrumental
Power in the Blood (Reprise) – Quartet
Blue Bonnet Girl (Reprise) – Quartet
Orsino’s Theme (Reprise) – Quartet
Hey Ho the Wind and the Rain – Festus and Ensemble
Viola – Beautiful, young, slightly androgynous, and completely out of her element in Illyria. She is lost and alone, and doing her best to fight depression, when she unexpectedly falls in love with Orsino. She has a great deal of passion, and her survival instincts surprise even her in the wilderness of her current surroundings, but she knows that she does not feel at home here, unless she is with Orsino. She is able to disguise herself by wearing her brother’s clothes, and she wears her hair long like he did, so there is no attempt to cut her hair or hide it under a hat. She and Sebastian also have western style mustaches.
Olivia – The proprietor of the Wagon Wheel Saloon, which has recently ceased operations as she mourns the death of her brother, which causes a severe alcohol shortage in the town. She is beautiful, yet vain. If she is in mourning, she goes whole hog, to make sure she is the most stunning orphan in the Wild West. She is the type of woman who is always attracted to the thing she cannot have. She blossoms back to her true “Miss Kitty” personality after falling in love with Cesario. She plays guitar and sings.
Maria – Fiercely independent, ballsy bar matron at the Saloon. Uses her body and her mind equally well to get what she wants. She is very protective of Olivia and the saloon, and acts as a surrogate mother to both. Her relationship with Toby is extremely sexual. She packs a pistol under her skirt and is not afraid to use it. She has no room for artifice, and cannot stand Malvolio’s hypocrisy. Mae West would feel insecure around this woman.
Fabian – Spunky saloon girl and Toby’s drinking buddy. A spitfire, and a bit of a tomboy, she loves drinking and playing cards with the men. She loves a good practical joke. A physical comedienne.
Saloon Girls (2-4+) – In Act One, they are seen bored and wasting away in the saloon. In Act Two, when the saloon comes back to like they are seen serving drinks, singing and dancing, along with Olivia. Must sing and dance.
Orsino – Sheriff of Illyria. However, there is no real crime in this town, maybe the occasional town drunk (General Toby) to escort home. A poet at heart, he can be stopped in his tracks by a beautiful woman or a love song, but this does not mean he lacks masculinity or a quick draw. Infatuated with Olivia, to the point of being blinded to any other romantic possibilities. Very Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke.
General Toby Belch – Olivia’s drunkard and glutton of an uncle, although he would probably describe himself as an “epicurean.” He may be the butt of many of her jokes, but he is all the family she has left in the world, and he loves her very deeply and will do anything to protect his niece’s honor. He is a mooch extraordinaire and never seems to have any cash when the bill for a meal or drink comes. General Toby purchased a commission and made some meager attempt to fight in the Civil War. Now he regales the past as a golden age and refuses to take off his Confederate uniform, even though his stomach has grown far too large for it, and it needs a good washing.
Sir Andrew Aguecheek – General Toby’s companion, a dandy of a trust fund baby. He is an upper class English twit and is really uncomfortable in his Wild West surroundings. He can only play at the role of cowboy. His clothes are always immaculate, even if they appear to be much too large for him. He is tall, pale, with long, straight, stringy blond hair. Looks as if he would be more at home on a dude ranch.
Parson Malvolio – A puritanical frontier parson. Always carrying his Bible, with a modest simple cross on a chain prominently displayed around his neck. Very judgmental, of the “hellfire and brimstone” variety, but not a Pentecostal in any way. Very reserved in his manner, but he has a severe temper just bubbling under the surface. Secretly in love with Olivia, to the point of obsession. In some ways, he’s reminiscent of Julian Beck’s Rev. Kane from Poltergeist II: The Other Side, but more comical than demonic. Sings well enough to lead the prayer meeting.
Festus – The lone surviving miner from the town’s dormant silver mine. Part prospector, part snake oil salesman, part showman, he is a consummate entertainer for hire. Plays a fool, but is incredibly intelligent and able to get out of a tight scrape using his words. He is very similar to Ali Hakim from Oklahoma! He plays guitar well and sings to whoever will pay his fee.
Sebastian – Viola’s twin brother, slightly androgynous, very protective of his sister. While he is a survivor, he also is not opposed to a little fun in the face of adversity. While he does have a bit of an androgynous look, he does have a macho side and a big chip on his shoulder, which means he will fight if challenged. He reminds us a bit of James Dean from Giant.
Antonio – a Mexican bandito and former cattle rustler who has mended his ways, but still finds himself running from his dark past. He is a walking arsenal strapped with guns, bullet belts and knives. He is trusting, loyal, and dependable, often to a fault. There is a wanted poster of him hanging in the Sheriff’s office.
Valentine and Curio – Orsino’s two main (Mutt and Jeff) deputies, a good-natured matched pair, who indulge Orsino’s romantic notions, as long as it keeps them from having to do a hard day’s work. If Curio sings he can also be a part of the quartet.
Singing Deputies (4) – They form a barbershop quartet, which sings for Orsino whenever he is lovesick and Festus is not around.
Priest – Ancient, partially deaf old man who has retired from active church service in order to make way for Malvolio in town, but still acts as a justice of the peace for a little extra spending money and a spare shot of whiskey. Don’t underestimate him; he’s still got some fire in his bones.
Ensemble (as available) –These actors play iconic characters found in a wild-west town: the school teacher, doctor, shop keeper, blacksmith, etc.
This rootin’, tootin’ Wild West adaptation of Twelfth Night is the culmination of years of imagining between myself and director co-creator David Grapes. The project first popped into our heads when we began collaborating at the Tennessee Repertory Theatre in 2000, and I am excited that we can finally bring it to the stage for you.
David and I have worked together on several “concept” Shakespeare productions over the years, including a futuristic Romeo and Juliet, a rock and roll Taming of the Shrew set in 1950s American suburbia, and a Rousseau-inspired tropical Tempest. When we began discussing what new setting might best suit Twelfth Night, the Wild West seemed a natural fit for this classic romantic comedy, as images of wagon trains, cyclones, comic duels at high noon, and saloon showgirls quickly began to imprint themselves on the characters and situations
While this initial inspiration proved fruitful, we knew that Twelfth Night would require careful consideration when transposing it out of its traditional historical setting, for several reasons. First and foremost, it demands a social environment in which the main female character can believably take full advantage of her androgyny in order to pass undetected in a world of men. While sexual roles in the Wild West are fairly well-defined, we decided to capitalize on its history, which is full of characters such as Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane who buck society’s stereotypes of women. Not only did this provide us with a means to reinterpret Viola, but it also allowed us to liberate Olivia, Maria, and gender-switched saloon girl Fabian as strong women who can draw a pistol with as much speed and accuracy, not to mention down a shot of whiskey without blinking an eye, as any of the men in the play
Secondly, Twelfth Night is one of the most song-filled plays of the Shakespearean canon, and David and I knew that music had to play a major role in defining the new world we were crafting for the text. Because one of the most identifiable images of the Wild West is that of the “singing cowboy,” we looked to Gene Autry and Roy Rogers for inspiration, and found that the music in our version of the play could not be confined to the role of the clown Feste (whose transformation to “Festus” was a no-brainer, for fans of Gunsmoke). Once we settled on Orsino’s character type as a sheriff residing over a town with little, if any, crime to attend to, we knew that the key to the musical framework of the play would be found in the voices of a barbershop quartet of deputies who could also assist with scene transitions by singing songs of the open range made popular by the Sons of the Pioneers.
Shakespeare paints Malvolio (whose name literally means “ill will”) as an irrepressible Puritan, one of the religious and political zealots who successfully closed the public theatres in London on numerous occasions, on the grounds of legislated morality. Thus, as a surrogate for this artistic intolerance, it is natural that Shakespeare asserts that Malvolio’s ridiculous hypocrisy deserves to be punished. Our Malvolio has been transformed into a stern prairie minister, full of hell-fire and brimstone, whose ambition becomes trumped by his love for Olivia. His unrequited passion stands in sharp contrast to the ease with which the main characters fall in and out of love, and the punishment he is meted out by Toby and Maria’s pranks does seem a bit cruel. Yet, at the end of the day, it is nothing more than an assertion that good will trumps bad, and a sense of humor trumps a sense of moral superiority, and that there is as much a place for a drinking song in this world as there is for Sunday hymns.
Robert Neblett – 2021
David Grapes II
David is an Emeritus Professor of Theatre at the University of Northern Colorado, where he served as the Founding Director of the School of Theatre Arts and Dance and Producing Artistic Director for The Little Theatre of the Rockies for 15 years. David is also an award-winning director, actor, drama critic and playwright, and has provided administrative and artistic leadership for a wide variety of theatrical institutions including two professional regional (LORT) theatre companies. An active member of SDC, DGA and AEA his work as a stage director (250+ productions) and actor has been seen at major regional theatres across the United States. As a DGA member, David is the creator or co-creator of ten original musical revues, six plays, a screenplay, and numerous adaptations (www.summerwindproductions.com), which have enjoyed over 500 productions worldwide. David holds a BA from Glenville State University (Alumnus of the Year 2010) and an MFA in Acting/Directing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In 2021, he was inducted into The American Theatre College of Fellows at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
Vince di Mura
Vince is a composer, arranger, jazz pianist and musical director; appearing on concert stages and theatres throughout North America, Canada, Europe and Latin America. He is currently the Resident Musical Director and Composer for the Lewis Center of the Arts at Princeton University, where he has served since 1987. He has conducted theatre seasons and fulfilled numerous compositional commissions at theatre across the U.S. His arrangements for Summerwind Productions include “My Way,” “Christmas My Way,” “Simply Simone” and “I Left My Heart.” Mr. di Mura is also the author and curator of “A Conversation with the Blues:” A 14 part web instructional series on improvisation through the Blues, Produced by Soundfly Inc. Vince has 6 CDs on the market including his most recent release, “Meditations on the Sacred Heart.” All of which are available at CDBaby.com and any number of internet outlets.
PROGRAM CREDITS FOR TITLE PAGE
12th Night or Gun Fight at the Illyria Corral
A Wild West Romantic Comedy with Music
Conceived and Created by David Grapes
Freely Adapted from Shakespeare by David Grapes and Robert Neblett
Arrangements and Original Music by Vince di Mura
Dramaturgy by Robert Neblett
University of Northern Colorado – Staring Jim Mezon
Directed by David Grapes
UNCo School of Theatre Arts and Dance, Jim Mezon, Rich Shore, John Leonard, Josh Gagliardi
Gunfight at the Illyria Corral – Audio
Summerwind Productions, LLC – Box 430, Windsor, CO 80528 Email: Summerwindprod@hotmail.com