New York | 1h 30m | Already closed

Twelfth Night (The Public Theater)

From 37 critic and 112 member reviews
Members say: Entertaining, Delightful, Great singing, Clever, Refreshing

About the show

The Public Theater's Free Shakespeare in the Park presents a re-imagining of Public Works’ 2016 musical adaptation of 'Twelfth Night.' More…

Professional artists and two rotating ensembles of community members from all five boroughs will perform together on the Delacorte stage in this enchanting comedy about Viola, a young heroine who washes up on the shores of Illyria, disguises herself as a man, is sent to court a countess, and falls in love with a Duke.

1h 30m | Already closed | The Delacorte Theatre (Upper W Side)


"A musical with enormous heart and smarts to match its considerable spectacle...Theater that truly looks like NYC...One of the tightest productions I've seen from Shakespeare in the Park...Thoroughly delightful and heartwarming musical...Taub's songs are not only catchy but dramatically efficient, slicing through exposition and serving up objectives with a dexterity few other contemporary musical-theater composers possess...A truly stunning production.” Full Review


"Shaina Taub's joyful and sunny updated musical version of Shakespeare's comedy, 'Twelfth Night,' is back in a full production courtesy of free Shakespeare in the Park and Public Works which premiered an earlier production for four performances during Labor Day Weekend 2016. This slightly trimmed and tightened version is even more entertaining and the witty contemporary lyrics make this fun for young and old, as well as Shakespeare veterans and novices." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"At least as good as any of the new musicals that have opened in the past decade, and better than all but a handful of them. Indeed, Ms. Taub’s tuneful pop-soul score is reminiscent of a big-budget Disney show, only without the soul-shriveling slickness of a cold-hearted commodity musical like 'Frozen'... I can do no more in this space than suggest its limitless pleasures, not the least of which is a fetching performance by Ms. Taub as Feste, who is an accordion-toting street singer." Full Review

Magical MissTari Tour

“Seeing such a diverse group of people onstage was inspiring...The highlight was the fantastic original score by Shaina Taub...She chose just the right spots to musicalize and her lyrics smartly jumped off from Shakespeare's text...A terrific marriage of text and music...I found this delightful, heartfelt and tuneful incarnation to be just the thing to see on a summer night...The performers were all terrific." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"Taub has written music and lyrics for this adaptation, and the result is an absolute delight. Her work never meanders away from the play’s structure, but rather adds to the celebration, along with choreography by Latarro...The rest of the principal cast does their characters proud...'Twelfth Night,' among all of its flourish, evokes one word: joy. Every second is filled with it, from the silly machinations of the self-preserving Malvolio to Feste’s witty yet sincere commentary." Full Review


"If theatre be the food of love, the company played on, with the audience loudly cheering every quick reprise and dramatic exit through to the finale chorus, a heart-warming anthem of empathy extolling how much better the world would be if everyone just tried seeing it through the eyes of another...Despite the tremendous work by the theatre professionals, the highlight of any Public Works production is, of course, watching the community members of the ensemble." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

“Illyria has never been so welcoming...This freewheeling version...proves a consistent delight. Purists may blanch, but everyone else will be thoroughly charmed....Despite the broad humor on display, the adaptation doesn't stint on the piece's emotional power...It's the amateur performers who truly make the evening shine, their energy and enthusiasm at being onstage entirely infectious...There have been other musical versions of the play before, but none as giddily pleasurable as this one." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"Taub’s score is Broadway-ready, and she is a smashingly good charmer of a performer...A veritable parade of delights...If the thought of a professional/amateur effort sounds worthy but somewhat academic, please obliterate that thought. Taub’s version can only be described as jubilant. By crowding 50 members of various community groups on stage, the entire place takes off. Amateurs, yes; but well-rehearsed, talented, and above all energetically engaged in every moment." Full Review

Stage Left

"Get thee to the Delacorte before it is too late...A magical, festive, and highly accessible evening of Shakespeare that lifted my spirits, kept me grinning from ear-to-ear, and sent me out of the park and back into the concrete jungle of Manhattan with a pep in my step and a flutter in my heart...Musicals have a paradoxical power to simultaneously simplify nuanced ideas and heighten emotional resonance. The sacrifice of the former, here, is equally made up for by the pleasure of the latter." Full Review


“The kind of outdoor summer theater that transcends bad weather...The co-creators take Shakespeare’s themes and wrap them in an ebullient package, making sure everything about this production says ‘welcome’. With a score of catchy tunes and ardent performances, it’s a happy marriage of a classic play with a contemporary execution...The co-directors create bursts of energy as they cram the stage with the colossal ensemble and draw gratifying performances from the cast." Full Review

Front Row Center

"It is summer and time to give your fools a night off because Shaina Taub’s genius coupled with the creative mind of Kwame Kwei-Armah strike again...Get over there and stand in line for tickets...This show is a community effort, which brings to it the richness of collaboration of minds from all over our city...It was exhilarating to see this kind of inclusiveness in the piece...Alas, adaptations sometimes suffer a little loss of story line. But who cares too much when we are so entertained?” Full Review


“Vibrant, contemporary and very funny...This colorful, spirited production is a joy from start to finish...Taub’s lyrics cleverly convey the Bard’s tale with a decidedly contemporary edge...So generous in spirit is this production that even the vain Malvolio gets a big, Broadway-style number, not to mention some respect and compassion." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“Shakespeare's unruly romantic farce is expertly trimmed down to a fast, funny, touching ninety minutes...Taub's songs effortlessly condense the action, revealing complicated emotional states and knotty plot points with ease...The production is loaded with delightful bits of business...Everyone has been thoroughly drilled and they appear to be having a ball...This version of Illyria seems like an earthly paradise.” Full Review

The New York Times

"A sweet alternative reality...summoned by Kwei-Armah and Eustis, and Taub...What they and their team have conjured is a Platonic ideal of the crazy salad that is New York City in the silly season...Taub and Kwei-Armah have extended the original play’s consideration of the ambiguities of identity to address an age in which the divisions between sexes and classes paradoxically feel both more porous and unbridgeable than ever....It’s empathy that makes this production feel like such a blessing." Full Review

New York Theater

"I found the new version just as entertaining– but also improved as a work of theater....I saw the blue cast members, who were noticeably more streamlined and in sync than what I remembered from 2016, undoubtedly because of the extra time to practice. They felt more like townsfolk from Illyria rather than non-actors thrilled to be on a New York stage...Taub’s songs are all tuneful...Taub’s 'Twelfth Night' makes an effort to make a seamless whole out of verses written four centuries apart." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

“Magnificently fun musical version of ‘Twelfth Night’...The brilliant and delicious Taub who not only wrote the intoxicatingly fun music and lyrical adaptation, but played the fool Feste with a perfect frivolity, the show perfectly encapsulates the charming treaty on love and attraction...The playfulness of the ensemble enliven every scene they participate in with energy and joy...Kwei-Armah and Taub get the balance just right, perfectly and enthusiastically bringing everyone together." Full Review

AM New York

“Entertaining, poignant and vital community-oriented theater...Integrating a catchy, pop-style score...’Twelfth Night’ is a fast-paced and accessible musical comedy adaptation...The professional performances are terrific...but the jubilant chorus is what is most striking and refreshing...Of the many productions of ‘Twelfth Night’ I have seen in recent years, this is by far the most bright and upbeat.” Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

“The production, a restaged version of the show...thumbs its nose at the weather and delivers its own deluge of pure delight...The acting, dancing, and singing skills vary among the ensemble members...Even with all the running around, the very large cast, and the outsized production numbers, it is very easy to follow the plot, which has been boiled down to its essentials and configured into a joyful romantic comedy in which all ends happily." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"A downpour would begin anew, but the undeterred cast gallantly completed the show...There was so much fun being had that most of us could not be bothered to worry about being a bit soaked...The play lends itself to turning it into a romp in this free-wheeling, joyful conception...Hits the highlights of the play with the aim of providing sheer fun, thanks to the musical creativity, eager performances and an atmosphere that makes for delight in the park." Full Review

Cultural Weekly

"Gives off vibes of inspired nuttiness and celebratory sexual ambiguity...This latest updating...obliterates any memory of predecessors...Shaina Taub leads the orchestra with aplomb, plays the fool Feste with zip, and wrote the splendid songs which explore themes of gender switching and perspective. This infectious and fizzy spectacle rushes by in 90 minutes, a delicious summer cooler. What a pity it will gone soon. But that makes it all the more special." Full Review

Daily Beast

“A pared-back text and music and lyrics by the phenomenally talented Taub...The skill of Taub is to compose within and behind what already exists in the play. The makeover makes the characters more clearly understandable emotionally...Not only is every part of the stage used and splashed with color and activity, but, in the play’s final song, the evening’s overall theme is emphasized...Shakespeare at its most open-hearted and holistic." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"How arrive at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater and enjoy a production that celebrates inclusiveness without reserve—and without pandering or preaching to the choir...Kwei-Armah, Taub and Eustis not only make 'Twelfth Night' accessible to the breadth of audiences represented by their company—which includes kids—but emphasize the differences and contradictions that can exist within each one of us. And leave us laughing, and dancing, in the end." Full Review


"This is no ordinary production of Shakespeare’s much-loved romance, and not just because of Taub’s impressive contributions...Purists will likely quibble with some of the liberties taken. Everyone else will have a great time watching the antics as Viola dresses in grief as her brother, setting in motion a tangle of misguided relationships, but finding herself in the process...The whole production speaks to promise wherever you look, most especially in Taub’s direction.” Full Review

Stage Buddy

"Although somewhat overcast with rain and thunderstorms in the forecast, the mood onstage for 'Twelfth Night' in Central Park at The Delacorte Theater couldn’t have been sunnier!...Listen carefully to the words of Taub’s songs and you hear a 21st century sensibility, especially in terms of feminism and acceptance...The combination of amateur and professional in the cast provides unprecedented energy, enthusiasm and spirit on the Delacorte stage." Full Review


"A top-notch cast which blends the talents of both professional and community performers...Though there has been some tidy contemporary-edge adapting to tie the story up into a comfy 90 minutes, the spirit of the musical is admirably true to its source material and is only enhanced by the diverse and delightful songs...The integrated eclecticism in choreography, music and design reinforces once again the evening's message of inclusivity. 'Twelfth Night' is a joy from beginning to end." Full Review

Clever, Entertaining, Great acting, Delightful, Enchanting

See it if you like great, original music and lyrics, reinvention of Shakespeare plays, just plain unadulterated entertainment

Don't see it if You don't like Shakespeare, or anything other than traditional productions of Shakepseare

Enchanting, Exquisite, Great singing

See it if You love inclusive, diverse casts and excellent acting. The music was wonderful! It was an all around fun evening!

Don't see it if You are a Shakespeare purist. If you don't enjoy a fun, lively performance.

Delightful, Great acting, Must see, Relevant, Refreshing

See it if The production was so refreshing. The community involvement was exciting and fully integrated. I loved the sign language.

Don't see it if I can't think of a reason not to see this show. It is 90 minutes. I had a huge smile on my face the whole time.

Enchanting, Entertaining, Refreshing, Delightful, Kid-friendly

See it if You love musicals, enjoy Shakespearean plots, enjoy shows that mix professional actors w/ amateur (but talented) actors, love outdoor shows.

Don't see it if You hate musicals, hate being outdoors, loathe Shakespeare (though the language here is largely adapted.)

Also Really wonderful show to take kids to. Arrive to theater early, as the... Read more Read less

Delightful, Exquisite, Funny, Resonant, Quirky

See it if if you want to see a loyal, but refreshing musical adaptation of Shakespeare. Shaina Taub's music is splendid

Don't see it if If you're a Shakespeare purist

Delightful, Enchanting, Funny, Great staging, Must see

See it if You’re a fan of Shakespeare, musical theater, lots of people on stage, infectious high spirits and good ole showbiz!

Don't see it if You like your Shakespeare straight.

Also One of the best evenings EVER at the Delacourt in Central Park.

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining

See it if you can. This show is brilliant, no ifs, ands, or buts. True to the story with amazing music and a message of community that is *essential*.

Don't see it if you're a Shakespearean purist. This show is more adaptation than not, so don't go in expecting more than a few handfuls of verse.

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you love clever music, tight editing, great acting, beautiful colours, and an overall wonderful atmosphere

Don't see it if you are a total Shakespeare purist OR are totally anti-Shakespeare (though this may be the show to change your mind).

Refreshing, Delightful, Enchanting

See it if You want to see a musicalized version of this play which successfully blends the play’s melancholy love-story with its ribald merry-making

Don't see it if If you’re a stickler that all of the original text be included.

Clever, Delightful, Quirky, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if you love seeing different adaptations of Shakespeare shows

Don't see it if you’re not open to Twelfth Night as a musical

Clever, Delightful, Indulgent, Refreshing, Quirky

See it if you want to be completely blown away by a musical-infused Shakespearean classic that features show-stopping tunes/choreo and a great cast.

Don't see it if you're a traditionalist who only enjoys Shakespeare plays written and performed as close to the text as possible.

Ambitious, Entertaining, Great acting, Fun, Refreshing

See it if you love Shakespeare done for the modern audience, your belief in theatre is that anyone and everyone can do theatre

Don't see it if you dislike the outdoors, you want polished and perfect performances, you hate comedy

Absorbing, Great singing, Great staging, Resonant, Romantic

See it if You like the rock musical version of Two Gentlemen of Verona. This is closer in feel to a musical based on a Shakespeare work.

Don't see it if You are a Shakespeare originalist. Dislike changes to his works.

Also "Is this not love?" - Feste... Read more Read less

Delightful, Funny, Romantic, Great singing

See it if You want to have 90 minutes of pure joy. If you love a Good Shakespeare comedy, with great singing and community spirit.

Don't see it if You don’t like Shakespeare turned into a rocus musical.

Ambitious, Entertaining, Great staging, Great singing, Refreshing

See it if you like Shakespeare (or if you don't!), for Nikki M. James, you like diverse casting, and refreshing twists on Shakespeare plays

Don't see it if Don't like music in your Shakespearean plays, you don't want a fun time, are a Shakespeare purist, or non-traditional casting

Also Saw the Aug 8 performance. It's 90 mins with no intermission... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Enchanting, Entertaining, Engaging, Diverse

See it if Love an enchanting night in Central Park's Delacorte theater. Original twist on a Shakespeare favorite. Love including the community members

Don't see it if You complain when Shakespeare is enhanced.

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining

See it if My wife and I saw Twelfth Night on a very hot and humid night, but we're delighted by the lively music and staging.

Don't see it if You only want to see your Shakespeare straightforward.

Also All the acting was fine. We saw the understudy for Viola, a very impor... Read more Read less


See it if What a wonderful adaptation of the classic.. Most of the words are Shakespeare's with lively added music. The large cast is energetic.

Don't see it if You require Elizabethan costumes and total fidelity to the printed page.

Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging, Delightful

See it if You want to enjoy a magical night filled with terrific songs and great performances. If music be the food of love (and it is!) play on!

Don't see it if You don't enjoy musicals based on the classics with a diverse cast and delightful wit!

Ambitious, Funny, Great singing, Refreshing, Delightful

See it if u like imaginative new interpretations of Shakespeare. Great, catchy music that makes the text much more accessible. Great ensemble!

Don't see it if you want a traditional approach to Shakespeare. Don't like music. Expect something serious.

Thought-provoking, Must see, Great singing, Enchanting, Ambitious

See it if you enjoy new looks at Shakespeare's works, and enjoy folksy/NOLA jazz music.

Don't see it if you don't like Shaina Taub's indie/folk/jazz style. The ensemble is made up of amateur community groups so don't expect perfection.

Delightful, Great singing, Great acting

See it if you love Shakespeare in all forms, including an absolutely charming musical version. Also if you want to see the main leads be amazing.

Don't see it if you only like your Shakespeare traditional...or not at all. Even with the "modern" music and lyrics, there was much of the actual text.

Ambitious, Entertaining, Enchanting

See it if you like shakespear and you wanna see something new

Don't see it if you love classic shakespear

Absorbing, Clever, Great singing, Great staging, Hilarious

See it if you want to see a new take on a Shakespearean classic.

Don't see it if you don't like large-group musicals, or a different staging of a classic.

Delightful, Enchanting, Refreshing, Resonant

See it if Shaina Taub’s songs & inclusive ensemble cast mixing professionals and a cross section of fellow city residents makes this a winning combo

Don't see it if No reason except if you don’t have time to try to get to see this delightful play with a great message of empathy and gender diaparity

Cast & Creatives (16)