"Two Gentlemen of Verona" a successfully staged blending of song, Shakespeare

This weekend, the School of the Arts and Vocal Miscellany will present "Two Gentleman of Verona," a fast-paced musical adaptation of William Shakespeare's play of the same title.

Created by the award-winning writers of "Hair," "Two Gentleman of Verona" opened on Broadway in 1971 and won the Tony Award for best musical that year.

Director Alan Case, faculty member in the School of the Arts, began considering the show for the Geneseo stage last year. "I was looking for a show which would be fun to do and fun to watch, and also one which would permit me to use a fairly large cast," he said.

The talented cast includes 29 people in total, with some actors playing more one than one part and a few even moving between the stage and the pit band.

The show opens on characters Proteus (sophomore Nick Cotrupi) and Valentine (junior Jack Frederick), lifelong friends who are parting ways in order to chase different dreams.

Proteus stays in Verona to try his luck at wooing the beautiful Julia (senior Norma Butikofer), while Valentine rushes off to the fast-paced city of Milan.

But when Proteus' father orders him to Milan, he must leave Julia and carry the whole cast from the sandals and sundresses world of Verona to the sequins and nightlife of Milan, where love and chaos ensue under the rule of the Duke (senior Gavin Price).

Matters are further complicated when Valentine falls in love with Sylvia, the already betrothed daughter of the Duke.

The show uses many of Shakespeare's original lines, while also incorporating modern day slang and even some Spanish. Many of the musical numbers are short but offer variety in style, including traditional ballads, Latin rhythms and rock, all complimented by the saucy original choreography provided by junior MaryElisabeth Kimbark.

The playground of a set, complete with slide, jungle gym and ball pit, enhance the show's excitement.

"The ball bit solves the problem of people needing to be hidden on set," Case explained, noting that other ideas such as a hot tub or sandbox were deemed unrealistic.

"It has been an amazing collaborative process from beginning to end," said sophomore Kaitlin Springston, the stage manager.

Senior Natalie Mack, who plays Julia's outlandish Spanish friend, Lucetta, said, "Everyone in [the show] has a blast on and off stage" and admitted how "fabulous" it is to play Lucetta, "because she's so spunky."

"This show is colorful and loud - who can resist that?" said Mack.

While the show is often quirky and a little bit crazy, it stays true to Shakespeare's original themes of love and loyalty. As Springston puts it, "Don't worry if what's happening on stage doesn't quite make sense. Just sit back, laugh and enjoy the insanity."

"Two Gentleman of Verona" runs Thursday through Sunday in the Robert Sinclair Theater. Tickets are $8 and available through the Brodie Box Office.