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Shakespeare is timeless. The ’60s was a fun time. Theatre Macon has put them together

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How would Shakespeare sound with musical interludes a la James Brown?

Or the Turtles?

Or Four Tops?

Or how about the Beatles?

Find out at Theatre Macon’s production of William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” opens Friday and runs through Sept. 1.

“It’s a bigger than life play, that’s for sure,” said Richard Frazier, the play’s director and Theatre Macon’s artistic director. “It’s so much fun taking ‘Twelfth Night’ and putting it in the late ‘60s with the clothes, the vibrant colors, the music and adding a 1960s vibe.”

But Frazier and company make the time shift while fully retaining Shakespeare’s Elizabethan text.

“Yeah, we keep Shakespeare’s text but present it with modern gestures, facial expressions, stage blocking and other presentation techniques done in a contemporary way. There is a difference from what you’d see in traditional Shakespearean productions. That’s been one of the fun things about this for me and our 13 cast-members who’ve all done a great job and nailed the spirit of what we’re going for. I see this as just a really, really fun, entertaining evening.”

Then there’s the music. Though Shakespeare might be said to write romantic comedies, and “Twelfth Night” is a comedy, he won’t be classed a creator of musicals.

“I got the concept from Jake Dreiling, my high school drama teacher in Rockdale,” Frazier said. “He came up with it and we performed it in 2003. I was really struck by it and I don’t believe it’s been done anywhere since. I was eager to get my hands back on it. Jake took Shakespeare’s text and figured out what songs and styles worked with what sections. In our production, the character of the fool also plays guitar live and does most all the songs live on stage. He has lines and opens and closes the show with music.”

Frazier said “Twelfth Night” is one of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies and one of his shortest. Like a good many of his comedies, “Twelfth Night” mixes mistaken identities, misunderstood realities, disguises, cross-dressing, misdirected love triangles with compounded plot twists and turns to make things — as Frazier said — “so funny.”

And action for Theatre Macon’s updated ‘60s version is transformed from one of Shakespeare’s mythical kingdom-states where a key character is shipwrecked to a California coastal town. Appropriate enough.

“This is probably a PG, PG-12 production,” Frazier said. “Language isn’t different than other Shakespeare plays. We’re excited several schools have asked to come for a special performance. This is a fun one.”

Contact Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

“Twelfth Night”

Where: Theatre Macon, 438 Cherry St.

When: 8 p.m. Aug. 23-24 and 30-31; 7:30 p.m. Aug. 29; 2:30 p.m. Aug. 25 and Sept. 1

Cost: $25, $20 seniors and military, $10 students and children

Information: www.theatremacon.com, 478-746-9485

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