Broadway vet debuts as JMU faculty director in musical by former student

jmuBroadway veteran Jacob Brent makes his debut as faculty director in the JMU School of Theatre and Dance’s Shakespeare musical Twelfth Night, which runs Wednesday-Friday, Oct. 9-11 at 8 pm, Saturday, Oct. 12 at 2 pm and 8 pm, and Sunday, Oct. 13 at 2 pm at the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts.

Brent’s former student Shaina Taub wrote the music and lyrics as well as conceived Twelfth Night along with Kwame Kwei-Armah.

“I have known Shaina since she was 15 years old,” says Brent, who is best known for his role as Mr. Mistoffelees in the Broadway, London and video productions of Cats. “She was always a great actress and musician, and it has come full circle to now be directing a musical that she wrote.”

Named one of the best theatrical productions of 2018 by Time, The Hollywood Reporter and The Washington Post, Twelfth Night is a rousing contemporary musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic romantic comedy about mistaken identity and self-discovery. Twelfth Night tells the story of a young heroine who washes up on the shores of Illyria, disguises herself as a man, is sent to court a countess, and falls hard for a Duke. As Viola navigates this strange and wonderful new land, she finds her true self—and true love—in the process.

Viola, who is played by senior musical theatre major Mackenzie Meadows, is joined by a cast of 21 music, musical theatre and theatre students who don 1920s’ costumes to attend the “twelfth night” of a 12-night Mardi Gras festival in a New Orleans setting. This 90-minute accessible production of Shakespeare takes audiences on a fast-moving, eclectic musical journey featuring contemporary R&B to Broadway tunes.

In addition to Brent who also choreographed the show, the artistic staff includes JMU faculty members Kate Arecchi and Jim Clemens (musical direction) as well as JMU students Ben Steinhauer (scenic design), MaryKathyrn Todd (costume design), Catherine Holcomb (lighting design), Becca Gustafson (sound design), Jaclynn Wise (stage manager), and Michael Fobian (dramaturg).

For tickets, visit or call the Forbes Center Box Office at 540-568-7000.

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