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Two Gentlemen of Verona (musical)

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Lyrics  John Guare
Lyricist  John Guare
Playwrights  John Guare, Mel Shapiro
6/10 AllMusic

Originally published  1973
Composer  Galt MacDermot
Basis  William Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Productions  1971 Broadway 1973 West End 2005 Shakespeare in the Park 2011 St. Louis
Adapted from  The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Awards  Tony Award for Best Musical, Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical
Similar  John Guare plays, Musicals

Two Gentlemen of Verona is a rock musical, with a book by John Guare and Mel Shapiro, lyrics by Guare and music by Galt MacDermot, based on the Shakespeare comedy of the same name.

Contents

The original Broadway production, in 1971, won the Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Book. A London production followed in 1973. The Public Theater revived the piece in 2005.

what a nice idea two gentlemen of verona the musical


Synopsis

Lifelong friends Proteus and Valentine leave their rural hometown to experience life in urban Milan. Valentine falls in love with Sylvia, whose father has betrothed her against her will to the wealthy but undesirable Thurio, and plots to win her hand. Disregarding his loyalty to Valentine and Julia, his sweetheart back home, Proteus also sets his sights on Sylvia. He plans to expose his friend's intentions to her father, have Valentine banished from Milan, and claim her for himself.

Productions

After tryouts at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park in the summer of 1971 and twenty previews, the Broadway production, directed by Mel Shapiro and choreographed by Jean Erdman, opened on December 1, 1971 at the St. James Theatre, where it ran for 614 performances. The cast included Raul Julia, Clifton Davis, Jonelle Allen and Diana Davila in the leads; Stockard Channing and Jeff Goldblum were in the chorus.

The musical won two Tony Awards including Best Musical over such shows as Grease and Follies.

A West End production was mounted at the Phoenix Theatre beginning on April 26, 1973 and ran for 237 performances. Shapiro directed and Erdman choreographed. The original London cast included B. J. Arnau (Silvia), Ray C. Davis (Proteus), Jean Gilbert (Julia), Derek Griffiths (Thurio), Benny Lee (Launce), Michael Staniforth (Speed), and Samuel E. Wright (Valentine).

The New Jersey Shakespeare Festival revived the piece in 1996, directed by Robert Duke and starring Philip Hernandez and Dana M. Reeve.

The musical was revived by the Public Theater in their Shakespeare in the Park series for a limited run, from August 28, 2005 to September 11, 2005 at the Delacorte Theater. Kathleen Marshall directed and choreographed, and the cast featured Norm Lewis (Valentine), Oscar Isaac (Proteus), Rosario Dawson (Julia), Renée Elise Goldsberry (Silvia), Paolo Montalban (Eglamour), Mel Johnson Jr. (Duke of Milan) and John Cariani (Speed).

Critic Ben Brantley, in The New York Times, compared the "festive production" to "a fruity sangría", praising the cast but concluding that the work has not held up well. He wrote that the play's "wayward" characters were "not without parallels among the lotus-eating youth of the post-Woodstock years – a comparison that Messrs. Shapiro, Guare and MacDermot made canny use of. They also scaled down Shakespeare's passages of poetic pain for an approach that emphasized an easygoing, multicultural exuberance over wistful poetry and nonsense over sensibility.... [But] MacDermot's songs... lack the variety of his score for Hair.... And the lyricism Mr. Guare is known for as a playwright is rarely in evidence in his clunky work here as a lyricist".

Songs

† This number was replaced in the original London production by the song "Howl", due to concerns that the lyric to "Mansion" was too New York-centric, with references to rent control, sublets, and other uniquely urban concerns. For 1971 Broadway audiences, which were more New Yorkers than tourists (the reverse of Broadway audiences today), these references would have been both commonly understood and very funny in this faux-Shakespearean context. Theaters producing the show now have a choice between using "Howl" or "Mansion."

References

Two Gentlemen of Verona (musical) Wikipedia


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