Though only in town for one weekend, Two Gentlemen of Verona: A Rock Opera encompassed a season’s worth of theater fun. Featuring a cast of formidable talents, whose actors have appeared in Tony award winning shows like In The Heights ranging all the way to the original cast of Cats. The Sidney Harmon Hall stage created an enchanting canvas for the constant recreation and rehashing of Shakespeare’s play.
The story begins with a cast in modern dress singing in full-throated unison on an almost bare set of risers. The musicians and one set of swinging doors emblazoned with the mod font Two Gentlemen of Verona are all else. The story, costumes and music get increasingly showy and exciting as time goes on.
The story hops from song to song with some dialogue in between. There continues a wry battle of wills between the singing and feeling actors and the script in their hands. At one point, the audience and the actors are incredulous that Shakespeare has written one character out of the story completely and Sylvia is left with an entirely different love interest. A few actors confer over a script: “Yep, that’s what it says. OK!” And they break into song again. Cast your eyes here for a more complete synopsis of winks at the audience.
The songs range from pop ballads sung on roller skates to a vaudeville style duet to a rousing all-cast number complete with dimmed lights and an audience full of waving glow sticks. The characters follow the Bard’s general guidelines, but radiate fun in a rather confusing script. A perpetual goofy grin was on my face during the entire show.
This show was an incredible steal. Though this show is now gone, another version of Two Gentlemen is now playing and is, I hear, not above using U2 songs for emphasis. The Shakespeare Theater continues to offer $15 tickets. These are released every Tuesday at 10am for shows that week. Go online or call the box office.
Get thee to the Harmon! (I know, wrong play)