Great Lakes Theater Festival (GLTF), Cleveland's classic theater, concludes its 2010-11 season with William Shakespeare's doubly delightful romantic comedy, The Two Gentlemen of Verona [Two Gents]. The production will be performed in the company's revolutionary and audience-friendly home at the Hanna Theatre, PlayhouseSquare, April 8 - 23. 2011. The Festival's Producing Artistic Director, Charles Fee, will direct.
The production sponsor of The Two Gentlemen of Verona is PNC. Great Lakes Theater Festival's season is generously funded by the citizens of Cuyahoga County through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. The Festival receives additional season support from The Cleveland Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council. Media sponsors for GLTF's 49th season are Cleveland Scene, The Plain Dealer, WCLV 104.9 FM, WCPN 90.3 FM ideastream and WKSU 89.7 FM.
"Two Gents is really one of Shakespeare's unknown theatrical treasures," said GLTF Producing Artistic Director, Charles Fee. "The play is an absolutely beautiful story about young people coming of age...falling in and out and back in love. Along the way, it plumbs some extraordinary emotional depths and it also scales some euphoric heights...but throughout, there resounds a purity and truthfulness of storytelling that only William Shakespeare could have achieved. Although he was a young playwright in the early phases of his career when he wrote Two Gents, you can absolutely hear the heartbeat of classics to come, such as Romeo and Juliet, through the voices of Two Gents' characters. And this play is as fresh as it is accessible. There really is something in it for everyone, whether you're a Shakespeare buff...or brand new to his work."
In Two Gents, bosom buddies Valentine and Proteus are Verona's closest comrades. But their friendship is put to the ultimate test when Proteus forsakes his beloved Julia and competes for the affections of Valentine's newfound love, the strong-willed Silvia. Teeming with high comic scenes and rich, romantic language, Two Gents displays Shakespeare's copious comic powers at their hilarious height. And in Proteus, the GLTF role for which Tom Hanks won the Cleveland Critics' Circle Award for Best Actor in 1978, the Bard gives us one of his most memorable coming-of-age theatrical creations.
A live, onstage band infuses the The Two Gentlemen of Verona's contemporary setting with an infectious and fresh soundscape. "Shakespeare regularly incorporated music and musicians into his work," said the production's director, Charles Fee. "In Two Gents, the script, in fact, calls for musicians. We've really embraced the idea in our production - and we're incorporating a full band of live musicians into the action on stage. The music ranges from contemporary folk to rock...and even includes some subtle hip hop influences. The result is truly exhilarating. And I think audiences are going to have an absolute blast with it!"
Great Lakes Theater Festival's award-winning and audience-friendly home at the Hanna Theatre features a visionary "Great Room" inspired design concept that integrates the artist and audience experience into a single unified environment. Hanna patrons select from a variety of seating opportunities including traditional theater seats, club chairs, lounge/bar seats, banquette couches and private box seating. Arranged in an intimate 550-seat thrust configuration where the audience surrounds the stage, no seat is further than 12 rows from the performance at the Hanna.
With Two Gents, GLTF will continue to offer free, live music in the Hanna's lounge following Saturday evening performances (non-opening night). Nightcap Night Saturdays encourage patrons to extend their stay at the Hanna and highlight the GLTF/Hanna experience as one of the most unique entertainment options in the region. The Roy King Trio will provide musical entertainment following the Saturday, March 26th performance in the Hanna lounge. Critically-acclaimed vocalist and theater artist, Helen Welch, will headline the series, performing after the show on Saturday, March 19th.
Great Lakes Theater Festival's Experience Enhancement Series is organized by day of week. The series highlights the Hanna's unique amenities and affords patrons access to Festival artists.
Photo Credit: Roger Mastroianni