In our ADD-afflicted society, a Shakespeare production that holds an audience rapt is no small feat. A Noise Within's latest — its first in its sparkling new, not-a-nosebleed-seat-in-the-house facility — does just that, sexing up one of the Bard's most popular comedies and giving it a sprightly staging. With the action set in 1940s-ish Cuba, Angela Balogh Calin's crumpled linen suits and fluffy underskirts complement Doug Newell's simmering Latin sounds and Ken Booth's sometimes misty, sometimes white-hot lighting. Julia Rodriguez-Elliott's staging tows the fine line between campy and charming — the self-indulgent, wallowing Orsino (a dashing Robertson Dean) is rolled onto the stage in a claw-footed bathtub for his first scene. No surprise that the night belongs to the boys: Shakespeare's gender-bending play has only a few females, and here they either chew the scenery or have trouble holding their own with the men. Jeremy Rabb's Sir Andrew is all rubbery limbs and honest idiocy, Anthony Mark Barrow keeps a firm grasp on the fool Feste and Steve Weingartner shines in a small role. But artistic director Geoff Elliott's Malvolio, the one disturbing blight on Shakespeare's otherwise light romp, is a wonder. Adopting an eccentric speech pattern and a stiff social presence, which brilliantly both cover and reveal the character's secret ambition, Elliott seems like he's been prepping for this role for years. Consider it his housewarming present to himself. A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena; in rep thru Dec. 16 (call for schedule). (626) 356-3100, anoisewithin.org
Sat., Oct. 29, 6 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 5, 8 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 26, 8 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 27, 2 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 4, 2 & 7 p.m.; Fri., Dec. 9, 8 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 10, 2 & 8 p.m.; Thu., Dec. 15, 8 p.m.; Fri., Dec. 16, 8 p.m., 2011
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