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Harry Hamm, KMOX
“The most purely enjoyable evening of theatre I've had in a long, long time.”
– Steve Callahan, KDHX
"It'll be the most fun you have at the theater this year.”
– Christopher Reilly, The Patch
“I honestly can't recall when I've ever witnessed an
audience laugh at and enjoy Shakespeare more. . .
brilliantly executed and funny as hell.”
– Chris Gibson, BroadwayWorld.com
"A true must-see.” – Steve Allen, Java Journal
“Bright and breezy. . . a highly enjoyable evening.”
– Joe Pollack, St. Louis Eats and Drinks
Trade my strait-jacket for
A wedding veil,
Throw away my needle and spoon.
And all that jazz
Right out of my brain!
– Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Rock Musical
With music from the composer of Hair, lyrics by the author of Six Degrees of Separation, and a book (more or less) by the guy who brought us Hamlet, New Line continued its 20th season with the rowdy, carnal, thoroughly subversive TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA.
Set in Renaissance Verona and Milan – or maybe it's New York City in 1971 – composer Galt MacDermot, playwright John Guare, and writer-director Mel Shapiro have taken one of Shakespeare's least produced plays and breathed outrageous, new, cross-dressing life into it. TWO GENTS is a romantic comedy that explores issues of race, gender roles, the politics of war, and the sad reality that most men are pigs. The story tells of lifelong friends Proteus and Valentine who leave their rural hometown of Verona to experience life in the big city of Milan. But the course of true love – or is it just lust? – never did run smooth...
Rolling Stone said the score sounds like "walking down the street in El Barrio with all the windows open and a different radio blaring out of each one." Clive Barnes wrote of the original off Broadway production in The New York Times, “The New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theater is doing Shakespeare a power of good and turning Central Park into a place of celebration with its new production of Two Gentlemen of Verona. It is jeu d’espirit, a bardic spree, a midsummer night’s jest, a merriment of lovers, a gallimaufry of styles and a gas. It takes off.” After its move uptown, Barnes went further: “It has a surge of youth to it, at times an almost carnal intimation of sexuality, and a boisterous sense of love. It is precisely this that the new musical catches and makes its own. The musical also has a strange New York feel to it – in the music, a mixture of rock, lyricism and Caribbean patter, in Mr. Guare’s spare, at times even abrasive lyrics, in the story itself of small-town kids and big-town love. It also has a very New York sense of irreverence. It is a graffito written across a classic play, but the graffito has an insolent sense of style, and the classic play can still be clearly glimpsed underneath.”
Jack Kroll wrote about the show in Newsweek, "Two Gentlemen of Verona is a rousing delight, a rare example of how to manhandle Shakespeare for his own and the public's good." Brendan Gill wrote in The New Yorker, "At the end of the opening night performance of Two Gentlemen of Verona it seemed likely that nobody would ever consent to leave the theatre -- neither the merry band of marvelous young people onstage nor the audience that stood applauding."
TWO GENTS won Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Book (beating out Stephen Sondheim's Follies, Grease, and Jesus Christ Superstar) and also won the New York Drama Critics Award for Best Musical, and the Drama Desk Awards for Best Book, Best Lyrics, and Best Music.
The New Line cast included Zachary Allen Farmer (as Proteus), Eeyan Richardson (Valentine), Jeanitta Perkins (Julia), Taylor Pietz (Sylvia), Joel Hackbarth (Launce), Mike Dowdy (Speed), Terrie Carolan (Lucetta), Tom Conway (The Duke), Aaron Allen (Thurio/Antonio), Michael Jones (Eglamour), Nikki Glenn (Milkmaid), Mara Bollini, Rahamses Galvan, Emily Ivy, Michelle Sauer, and Kimi Short. The show was directed by Scott Miller, with choreography by Robin Michelle Berger, scenic design by Todd Schaefer, costume design by Thom Crain, and lighting design by Christopher Waller.
Check out our Two Gents blogs--
to explore more? We recommend:
The full text of the New York Times review of the early off Broadway version of the show, the New York Times review (by Clive Barnes) of the Broadway version, and a second New York Times review (by Walter Kerr) of the Broadway version
Wikipedia's Two Gents page, with lots of info
The New Liners' Two Gents Blogs
The excellent book Shakespeare and the American Musical
SparkNotes' excellent online summary and analysis of Two Gents
Links to Galt MacDermot clippings, including reviews and articles about Two Gents
Composer Galt MacDermot's official website
The excellent and entertaining 4-part documentary In Search of Shakespeare (it's also on instant Netflix!)
The script of the original Shakespeare play, along with good commentary and analysis
Links about the Shakespeare play