Two Gentlemen of Verona (musical)

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Two Gentlemen of Verona
Original Cast Recording
Music Galt MacDermot
Lyrics John Guare
Book John Guare
Mel Shapiro
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

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.

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


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.



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.[1][2][3]

The musical won two Tony Awards including Best Musical over such shows as Grease and Follies.[4]


An Australian production was presented at Her Majesty's Theatre in Melbourne, opening on March 31, 1973. The production featured John Waters, Gilbert Price, Gail Boggs and Judd Jones.[5]

West End[edit]

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).[6]


The New Jersey Shakespeare Festival revived the piece in 1996, directed by Robert Duke and starring Philip Hernandez and Dana M. Reeve.[7]

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).[8]

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".[9]


† This number was replaced in the original London production by the song "Howl",[10] 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."[11]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
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
Raul Julia 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
Jonelle Allen 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


  1. ^ Two Gentlemen of Verona Internet Broadway Database, accessed January 16, 2009
  2. ^ Kenrick, John. "History of The Musical Stage, The 1970s: Part I", The Cyber Encyclopedia of Musical Theatre, TV and Film, accessed January 16, 2009/
  3. ^ Green, Stanley. The World of Musical Comedy, p. 348 (1984) ISBN 0-306-80207-4
  4. ^ Tony Awards official site, accessed January 16, 2009
  5. ^ "AusStage - Two Gentleman of Verona". Retrieved 2017-09-21. 
  6. ^ Over the Footlights listing of 1973 West End musicals
  7. ^ Klein, Alvin. "A Most Fitting Maiden Voyage into Musicals", The New York Times, June 2, 1996
  8. ^ "'Two Gentlemen of Verona' 2005", accessed November 14, 2015
  9. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Shakespeare in the Park Review; Enter 'Two Gentlemen' For a Sexy Sip of Sangría", The New York Times, August 29, 2005
  10. ^ Two Gentlemen of Verona - Original London Cast, 1973
  11. ^ Inside Two Gents by Scott Miller

External links[edit]