|Two Gentlemen of Verona|
|Book||John Guare |
|Basis||William Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona|
|Productions||1971 Broadway |
1973 West End
2005 Shakespeare in the Park
2011 St. Louis
|Awards||Tony Award for Best Musical |
Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical
Drama Desk Outstanding Book
Drama Desk Outstanding Music
Drama Desk Outstanding Lyrics
Proteus and Valentine, lifelong friends, each leave their rural hometown of Verona to experience life in the city of Milan. Valentine strikes out on his own, arriving first; he falls in love with Sylvia, and makes plans to win her hand. However, her father, the Duke of Milan, has betrothed her to the wealthy but undesirable Thurio. Antonio, a Veronese nobleman, then decides to send his son Proteus to the Duke's court in Milan, to experience a more well-rounded life. After his arrival in Milan, Proteus also sets his sights on Sylvia, disregarding his loyalty to both Valentine and Julia (his sweetheart back home). Valentine admits his own plans to elope with Sylvia. Proteus tells the Duke of their plans, gaining favor for himself - and causing Valentine's banishment from the court. Meanwhile, in Verona, Julia asks her maid Lucetta for help, in deciding upon which of the two she should fall in love with. Julia disguises herself as a page) named Sebastian so she can travel to Milan—accompanied by Lucetta, in the male guise of Caesario—to be reunited with Proteus. After arriving at court, she witnesses Proteus and Thurio wooing Silvia.
While traveling to Mantua, the exiled Valentine is kidnapped by outlaws, who have been banished also. They demand that Valentine become their king, but if he refuses, they intend to kill him; Valentine accepts. In Milan, Julia (disguised as Sebastian) delivers to Silvia the ring Proteus gave her, on his behalf (not realizing the page was actually his Veronese girlfriend). Silvia enlists her friend Sir Eglamour to help her escape her betrothal to Thurio, and to find Valentine instead. However, while traveling through the forest, they are overtaken by a band of outlaws. Eglamour runs away, leaving Silvia to fend for herself.
By then, the Duke, Proteus, and Thurio, along with the disguised Julia, organize a search party for Silvia. Proteus wrests Silvia away from the outlaws. Proteus demands that Silvia give him some sign of her favor for freeing her, but she refuses. He tries to rape her, but the hidden Valentine emerges and stops him. Proteus apologizes, and Valentine offers to give him Silvia as a token of their friendship. Then "Sebastian" (Julia) faints, revealing her true identity. Proteus decides he really loves Julia more than Silvia, taking her instead. The Duke realizes that Thurio is a thug, and recognizes Valentine is much nobler and should marry Silvia. Valentine asks for clemency for the outlaws, and suggests that his marriage to Silvia and Proteus' marriage to Julia should take place on the same day.
Original cast and characters
|Character||Broadway (1971)||West End (1973)||Off-Broadway (2005)|
|Silvia||Jonelle Allen||B. J. Arnau||Renée Elise Goldsberry|
|Proteus||Raul Julia||Ray C. Davis||Oscar Isaac|
|Julia||Diana Davila||Jean Gilbert||Rosario Dawson|
|Valentine||Clifton Davis||Samuel E. Wright||Norm Lewis|
|Lucetta||Alix Elias||Veronica Clifford||Megan Lawrence|
|Launce||John Bottoms||Benny Lee||David Costabile|
|Eglamour||Alvin Lum||Minoo Golvala||Paolo Montalban|
|Duke of Milan||Norman Matlock||Keefe West||Mel Johnson Jr.|
|Antonio||Frederic Warriner||Terence Conoley||Richard Ruiz|
|Speed||Jose Perez||Michael Staniforth||John Cariani|
|Thurio||Frank O'Brien||Derek Griffiths||Don Stephenson|
† 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."
Productions and history
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 replaced by Dennis Nahat for Broadway and London productions, opened on December 1, 1971 at the St. James Theatre, where it ran for 614 performances.
The original Broadway cast album was released on ABC Records in the US at the time; through merger and acquisition over the years, the Universal Music Group now owns the rights. The master tapes were restored for digital release through the Decca Broadway label in 2002.
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.
In his review for The New York Times, Clive Barnes wrote, "What I really love about Two Gentlemen is its simplicity. Beneath all the multicolored gimmicks and extravagances, there are real people living and loving, and this I find very moving."
Critic Ben Brantley, in The New York Times, compared the 2005 revival to a "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".
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
|1972||Tony Award||Best Musical||Won|
|Best Book of a Musical||John Guare and Mel Shapiro||Won|
|Best Original Score||Galt MacDermot and John Guare||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical||Clifton Davis||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical||Jonelle Allen||Nominated|
|Best Direction of a Musical||Mel Shapiro||Nominated|
|Best Choreography||Jean Erdman||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Theoni V. Aldredge||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Book of a Musical||John Guare and Mel Shapiro||Won|
|Outstanding Performance||Raul Julia||Won|
|Outstanding Director of a Musical||Mel Shapiro||Won|
|Outstanding Choreography||Jean Erdman||Won|
|Outstanding Lyrics||John Guare||Won|
|Outstanding Music||Galt MacDermot||Won|
|Outstanding Costume Design||Theoni V. Aldredge||Won|
|Theatre World Award||Jonelle Allen||Won|
- Playbill 1971 Bio Cast Listaccessed 07/14/2023
- Playbill 1973 Bio Cast Listaccessed 07/14/2023
- Playbill 2005 Bio Cast Listaccessed 07/14/2023
- Two Gentlemen of Verona - Original London Cast, 1973
- Inside Two Gents by Scott Miller
- Two Gentlemen of Verona Internet Broadway Database, accessed January 16, 2009
- Kenrick, John. "History of The Musical Stage, The 1970s: Part I" Musicals101.com, The Cyber Encyclopedia of Musical Theatre, TV and Film, accessed January 16, 2009/
- Green, Stanley. The World of Musical Comedy, p. 348 (1984) ISBN 0-306-80207-4
- Tony Awards official site Archived 2007-06-15 at the Wayback Machine, accessed January 16, 2009
- "Various - Two Gentlemen Of Verona: A Grand New Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording)". Discogs. 1971. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
- "Various - Two Gentlemen Of Verona: A Grand New Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording)". Discogs. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
- "AusStage - Two Gentleman of Verona". www.ausstage.edu.au. Retrieved 2017-09-21.
- Over the Footlights listing of 1973 West End musicals http://www.overthefootlights.co.uk/1973musicals.pdf
- Klein, Alvin. "A Most Fitting Maiden Voyage into Musicals", The New York Times, June 2, 1996
- "'Two Gentlemen of Verona' 2005" Internet Off-Broadway Database, accessed April 3, 2022
- Barnes, Clive (December 2, 1971). "Stage: 'Two Gentlemen of Verona'". The New York Times. Retrieved December 5, 2022.
- Brantley, Ben. "Shakespeare in the Park Review; Enter 'Two Gentlemen' For a Sexy Sip of Sangría", The New York Times, August 29, 2005