There is debate among academics about the alternative title of William Shakespeare’s famed play “Twelfth Night” — “What You Will.” Chris Mackin, a 21-year-old Merokean, described the phrase as an archaic way of saying “whatever you want,” “it’s up to you,” or “whatever you choose.”
Chris and his brother, Tommy, 19, and their friend Brad Michalakis, 20, embodied the spirit of those words while building sets, rehearsing and discussing their own production of “Twelfth Night” last summer in the Mackins’ garage. And when they decided to form a production company and present plays annually on Long Island, What You Will was the obvious choice for the name of their endeavor.
“It became a phrase we started using a lot,” Chris said. “I guess it’s really about freedom of choice, and you can interpret it how you want and you can get out of it what you want.”
What You Will Productions, a group formed by Calhoun High School alumni and comprising college students from Bellmore-Merrick and the surrounding area, will stage its third show at the Bellmore Movies this week. The young thespians will perform “Romeo and Juliet” at 8 p.m. on Friday and at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
The Mackins and Michalakis took an interest in theater at different times in their lives. While Chris got involved with the On Tour Company, the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District’s select theater program, when he was a senior at Calhoun, his brother and Michalakis had appeared in plays together when they attended Merrick Avenue Middle School. By the time they were preparing to head to college, they took more interest in theater — so much so that they missed performing and producing when they came home for winter and summer vacations.
Michalakis recalled that the trio first discussed putting on a play while sitting in a car on Chris’s birthday three years ago. “We can just do a show this summer,” someone said — and they did just that, staging “The Tempest” in West Babylon with other Calhoun and On Tour alumni in August 2012. While they had learned about putting together student-run productions through On Tour and at their respective colleges, they said that staging “The Tempest” was a learning experience.