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Production photos now available for


Playing through November 26

Director Tyrone Phillips brings Shakespeare’s cleverest comedy to life in the Caribbean isles

Chicago—October 30, 2023Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents William Shakespeare’s romantic comedy Twelfth Night, staged by director Tyrone Phillips in the Courtyard Theater, running now through November 26. The company features Shelby Lynn Bias, Christiana Clark, Ronald L. Conner, Naphtali Curry, Danielle Davis, Yao Dogbe, Israel Erron Ford, Alex Goodrich, Jaeda LaVonne, Arielle Leverett, Roberto Mántica, Adam Poss, Justen Ross, and Paul Oakley Stovall.

Phillips, a first-generation Jamaican American, reimagines Illyria in the Caribbean isles in an exuberant production that makes the play’s oft-quoted line, “If music be the food of love, play on,” ring truer than ever. Separated from her twin brother in a shipwreck and washed ashore in an unfamiliar land, the spirited Viola disguises herself as a man to work for charming Duke Orsino—and finds herself in the middle of a love triangle of hilarious mistaken identities. Filled with witty commentary on gender, class, and sexuality, this sparkling romance brims with heart and revels in the intoxicating power of love.

“Twelfth Night is all about love, and when I think about love, I think about home and my parents,” shared Phillips. “I’m a first-generation Jamaican American, and I want to bring the freedom I feel when I step off the plane in the Caribbean—the vibrancy, the music, the climate—into this production. And in that environment, we’ll create space for the questions this play brings up about how to love yourself, and the freedom to express who you truly are, which in turn gives you the power to love someone else and love your community.”

Jaeda LaVonne makes her Chicago Shakespeare debut as the bold and adventurous Viola. LaVonne was recently seen as Gloria in Raven Theatre’s The October Storm, a performance hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “especially empathetic; fearless and powerful.” Other credits include Chlorine Sky at Steppenwolf Theatre and the title role in Toni Stone at Kansas City’s Unicorn Theatre. Appearing as the disgruntled Malvolio is Paul Oakley Stovall, who recently toured the US as George Washington in Hamilton. Also a playwright and activist, his performance credits include Benny in the first national tour of Rent and work at Steppenwolf Theatre, Court Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Second Stage Theatre, and Kansas City Repertory Theatre. Christiana Clark returns to Chicago Shakespeare in the role of Olivia, after appearing in All’s Well That End’s Well. An eight-year company member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, she recently appeared in Lincoln Center Theatre’s Flex and Goodman Theatre’s the ripple, the wave that carried me home. Ronald L. Conner appears as Sir Toby Belch, returning to Chicago Shakespeare after previously performing in multiple Short Shakespeare! productions and Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks. He also appeared in the Goodman’s the ripple, the wave that carried me home, where additional credits include Incendiary, Sweat, and more. Other Chicago credits include work at Congo Square Theatre, where he is an ensemble member, Court Theatre, and Timeline Theatre.

In the role of Orsino is Yao Dogbe, who was recently seen in Shakespeare Theatre Company’s King Lear. He has performed at Chicago Shakespeare in Short Shakespeare! Macbeth, and other Chicago credits include work at Remy Bumppo Theatre Company and Northlight Theatre. Maria is played by Jeff Award-nominated Danielle Davis, who performed the title role in last season’s Clyde’s at Goodman Theatre. Her Chicago Shakespeare credits include multiple Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks productions and Romeo and Juliet. She is an ensemble member at Definition Theatre, where she performed in An Octoroon. Jeff Award winner Alex Goodrich plays Sir Andrew Aguecheek; he was recently seen in Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story at Marriott Theatre and Fen at Court Theatre, and his many Chicago Shakespeare credits include last year’s It Came From Outer Space, Hamlet, and Love’s Labor’s Lost. As Antonio, Adam Poss returns to Chicago Shakespeare after appearing as Angelo in last year’s Measure for Measure. In addition to credits at Steppenwolf Theatre and Writers Theatre, Poss appeared as Lady Macbeth in Robert O’Hara’s reimagined Macbeth at the Denver Center. Israel Erron Ford plays the clown Feste, a role he recently played in the Classical Theatre of Harlem’s production of Twelfth Night. Other regional credits include The Inheritance at Geffen Playhouse, as well as Choir Boy and Father Comes Home from the Wars: Part 1 at Yale Repertory Theatre.

The company also features Justen Ross as Sebastian; Ross received the 2021 Princess Grace Award, and recently wrote, composed, and performed in an original piece, Rome & Juice, for Reiser Atlanta Artists Lab at Alliance Theatre. In the role of Curio is Roberto Mántica, who was most recently seen in Landladies at Northlight Theater, and in the role of Valentine is Napthali Curry, who has been seen in The Real Housewives of Motown at Black Ensemble Theatre and Rent at Porchlight Music Theatre. Playing Fabian is Shelby Lynn Bias, whose credits include Jo March in First Folio Theatre’s production of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, and multiple productions at Lifeline Theatre, where she is a member of the artistic ensemble. Arielle Leverett, in the role of Gentlewoman, is an ensemble member of Broken Nose Theater, where she was Jeff-nominated for her performance in After the Blast, and other Chicago credits include work at First Folio, Court Theatre, and Windy City Playhouse. Understudies include Christian Andrews, Ernest Bentley, Cereyna J. Bougouneau, Blake Hamilton Currie, Donterrio, and Dylan J. Fleming.

Tyrone Phillips has a long history with Chicago Shakespeare Theater and credits his early high school experience seeing Shakespeare in the Courtyard Theater among the reasons he chose to pursue a career in theater. He is the founding Artistic Director of Chicago’s Definition Theatre. Named one of Newcity’s Players in 2022, Phillips has credits in myriad positions at Chicago Shakespeare, including director of the virtual production I, Cinna (the poet), associate director for Hamlet, dramaturg for Romeo and Juliet, and a performer in multiple productions. Recent directing credits include The Royale at American Players Theatre and Fairview at Definition Theatre. Other credits include work at the Goodman, Steppenwolf, Writers Theater, San Diego’s Old Globe, Berkeley Rep, Milwaukee Rep, and off-Broadway’s Stage 42. Phillips is currently adjunct faculty at DePaul University and the University of Illinois – Chicago while also serving on the Board of Directors for the League of Chicago Theaters. He recently received the Arts Midwest Inaugural Peter Capell Award for Midwestern Creativity and Entrepreneurship.

The production will feature music, under the direction of Jeff Award-nominated Robert Reddrick with choreography by Sadira Muhammad. “There’s a reason everybody knows the famous quote from Twelfth Night—’If music be the food of love, play on,’” said Phillips. “There’s so much truth in it. When words aren’t enough, music comes in to transcend race, culture, gender, and I’m eager to use music in this piece to bring our audience together.

Rounding out the creative team are Jeff Award-nominated Scenic Designer Sydney Lynne, Jeff Award-nominated Costume Designer Christine Pascual, Lighting Designer Xavier Pierce, Sound Designer Willow James, Jeff Award-winning Projections Designer Mike Tutaj, Verse Coach Kevin Gudahl, Intimacy Director Gaby Labotka, Fight Choreographer Matt Hawkins, Assistant Director Michelle Bester, Assistant Scenic Designer Alyssa Thompson, Assistant Sound Designer Sakyrah Morris, Production Stage Manager Jessica Forella, and Assistant Stage Manager Michael George.

Accessible and enhanced performances for Twelfth Night include:

  • Audio-described performance with optional touch tour – Sunday, November 12, 2023, at 2:00 p.m. A program that provides spoken narration of a play’s key visual elements for patrons who are blind or have low vision. Touch Tours provide patrons the opportunity to experience, firsthand, a production’s design elements.
  • Projected Spanish translated performance – Tuesday, November 14, 2023, at 7:30 p.m. A text display of the words of the play, translated into Spanish, synced live with the dialogue.
  • Open-captioned performance – Wednesday, November 15, 2023, at 1:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. A text display of the words and sounds heard during a play, synced live with the action onstage.
  • ASL duo-interpreted performance – Friday, November 17, 2023, at 7:30 p.m. All dialogue and lyrics are translated into American Sign Language by two certified interpreters.
    More information at or on social media at @chicagoshakes.

Twelfth Night plays through November 26, 2023, in Chicago Shakespeare’s Courtyard Theater. Tickets start at $38 and are on sale now. Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website at



Regional Tony Award-recipient Chicago Shakespeare Theater produces a bold and innovative year-round season—plays, musicals, world premieres, family productions, and theatrical presentations from around the globe—alongside nationally recognized education programming serving tens of thousands of students, teachers, and lifelong learners each year. Founded in 1986, the Theater’s onstage work has expanded to as many as twenty productions and 650 performances annually. Chicago Shakespeare is dedicated to welcoming the next generation of theatergoers; one in four of its audience members is under the age of eighteen. As a nonprofit organization, the Theater works to embrace diversity, prioritize inclusion, provide equitable opportunities, and offer an accessible experience for all. On the Theater’s three stages at its home on Navy Pier, in classrooms and neighborhoods across the city, and in venues around the world, Chicago Shakespeare is a multifaceted cultural hub—inviting audiences, artists, and community members to share powerful stories that connect and inspire.


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