Pennsylvania’s Gamut Theatre Group christens its new theatre with performance of Twelfth Night

Normally, standing ovations come at the end of a performance, but the opening performance of Gamut Theatre Group’s Twelfth Night was bookended by them.

As co-founders Clark and Melissa Nicholson took the stage to welcome the audience to the new theatre, the crowd erupted into applause, and as the actors returned to bow at the close, the same sound filled the new “cathedral to the arts”.

Full Cast
It has been a long journey to renovate and reinvent the historic church building into a top notch performance and education space, but one worth the work. Before the move, Gamut had to perform in a rented space in a city shopping mall. Admittedly, they put on great performances there, but the new space holds much more potential – and gives them a permanent home.

Harrisburg, most well known for being the bankrupt capital of the state of Pennsylvania, lacks a strong reputation for the arts. However, many people committed to both the city and to the arts have been working to change that.

Feste and Toby
For the past 21 years, Gamut has been working to rejuvenate the city through the power of theatre. Even before the new space, Gamut mounted several shows a year, including educational shows that went on tour to schools around the northeast US, as well as offering classes on Shakespeare performance and education.

This new space will allow them continue and expand upon all their realms of work, with several classroom spaces, along with performance and rehearsal spaces.

drunk surgeon
The design of the mainstage pays homage to Early Modern theatre with a wooden thrust stage and facade featuring three entrances as well as a balcony – very reminiscent of the shape of The Globe or Blackfriars. But, looking up doesn’t reveal starlight or candelabras, but a lattice of lighting and sound equipment. It’s a marriage between the past and the present.

Of course, what use is a beautiful theatre without performances to complement it? The opening performance of Twelfth Night matched the space perfectly. The actors brought the scenes to life with the Bard’s lines rather than elaborate sets pieces or props. When modern technology appeared, it subtly heightened the action of the scene without interrupting it.

Ceasario and Olivia Arch Pity Me
The same care that defines the new space was given to the performance of the text. Each character contained nuance and variety, creating a multi-faceted production full of laughs and drama. Tom Weaver’s performance as Malvolio contrasted in every way Francesca Amendolia’s performance as Feste, adding an undercurrent of humor and intrigue to the convoluted romance unfolding.

For their first season, the Gamut Theatre Group is bringing their usual array of children’s shows (such as A Christmas Carol currently running for the holiday season), Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti (opening after the new year), and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in February. Interspersed amongst those main shows, there are also a number of performances from their improvisational team as well as community projects with their Stage Door Series.

Go here for more information on Gamut Theatre Group.