Have you ever wondered how to get young people interested in attending a Shakespeare play?
Well, thanks to the Shakespeare Theatre Company, you have the answer.
How about incorporating "Zac and Sara" by Ben Folds Five, "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" by Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers, "Bulls on Parade" by Rage Against the Machine, "Single Ladies" by Beyonce, "Brighter than Sunshine" by Aqualung, and finally two numbers from U2: "With or Without You" and "Beautiful Day" (which is used to end the play).
Mix in a set (by the incredibly talented Walt Spangler) that is a cross between Rent and the original Sweeney Todd, clever lighting by Howell Binkley, cute costumes by Paul Spadone, new music composed by Fabian Obispo with lyrics by the superb director PJ Paparelli with vocal arrangements by Jon Kabfleisch, with clever and funny sur-titles used to introduce scenes co-written by Director Paparelli with Assistant Director Gus Heagerty (both responsible for the choice of the rock music).
Throw in product placement that today's teenagers would recognize from McDonald's to Apple to General Mills's Fruit Loops to Dyson vacuum cleaners, to a set from "The Tonight Show" with the "ing" Lion's logo on a desk, to Barilla pasta, to UPC codes, to Ferrari on the side of a pool table, and a huge sign advertising Campari (and plenty of Campari to drink).
Oh...did I forget to mix in the cutest dog imaginable, Crab (played by Oliver, trained by Animal Trainer William Berloni who was responsible for the original Sandy in Annie).
Finally, throw in a terrific ensemble who seem to be having a blast performing on the stage of the Lansburgh Theatre.
The story? Just tell them it's about teenagers, love, betrayal, recklessness, passions fun, with a tad of violence well done by Fight Director Paul Dennhardt.
One could enjoy the show not knowing the English language. It's just so much fun to watch.
But if you do understand English, Two Gentlemen of Verona is after all, Shakespeare.
Leading the cast are Nick Dillenburg as Proteus, Mirium Silverman as Julia, Natalie Mitchell as Silvia, Brent Harris as the Duke of Milan, and Andrew Veenstra as Valentine.
Playing the comedic parts of servants are the wonderful Adam Green as Speed and the incomparable Euan Morton who milks every minute on stage with his partner, Crab the dog. Can you saw Awe???
For photos and articles about the show, log onto www.Asides.ShakespeareTheatre.org.
I do have one complaint. The STC also performed the 1971 rock musical The Two Gentlemen of Verona in a concert version the week-end of January 27-29 in the Sidney Harman Hall. Couldn't they have run it for a couple of more week-ends?
You have until March 4 to see this fun show. For tickets, call 202-547-1122 or visit www.shakespearetheatre.org. And finally, thanks to the STC's Lindsay Tolar for providing the list of music.
Photo Credit: Scott Suchman