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Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Farewell to "Two Gents"



A sold-out crowd filled the Swan to overflowing for the final performance of The Two Gentlemen of Verona. We're sad to see this wonderful run come to its conclusion, but we're grateful for the amazing support we received from our audiences for this "expertly acted and directed" show -- as one patron observed. A few more comments:

What a great show! I had never read the play, and we found it really charming and full of wit, set and performed so well, and with super style in the costume department. I've still got the "Sylvia" song in my head. Huzzah!

We did – all of us – very much enjoy the show.

And about the Youth production:

Totally loved it! Lincoln is fortunate to have the beautiful Swan Theatre – and the swans!

Special thanks go to Jayne Sebby, owner of our rehearsal dog, Blue, and of the dog who played Crab for the show, Taz, in his stage debut. Taz is a nine-year old red Border Collie who competes in agility and is close to achieving his 20th title. He also helps to teach handlers and other dogs in agility classes and has given dozens of demonstrations in Lincoln, at sites including the Lied Center and the Lancaster Events Center.

So many individuals -- including the non-human variety -- contribute in making the magic of Flatwater Shakespeare!

Photos: Robie Hayek as Launce and Taz as Crab the Dog in Flatwater Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Photo credit: Michelle Zinke, Stage Manager Extraordinaire.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Final Weekend for Flatwater's *2 Gents*!


A few more audience comments --

Great, memorable evening! What they do when it storms: 1) Carry on. 2) Brief extra intermission. 3) Relocate the whole thing to the relatively dry area under the balcony, and improvise. The momentum of the show was unstoppable!

The actors in the play were spectacular. Bravo everyone!

We thoroughly enjoyed last Saturday's performance.

A marvelous production! You have done so well. We missed the rainy performance, but not the show. The Outlaw Band was a delight, and the music worked well with the show. I especially enjoyed the use of "If I Didn't Care for You."

We enjoyed the show! Thank you for making us laugh, again. What a gift that you have . . . and how lucky we are to be in the audience to see it.

Wonderful production! Thanks for a delightful evening.

We have been going to Flatwater productions for several years. Two Gentlemen of Verona was one of our favorites! Flatwater is a Lincoln treasure. Thank you to all!


The Flatwater Shakespeare Company presents The Two Gentlemen of Verona in the Swan Theatre at Wyuka, 3600 O Street in Lincoln, Friday-Sunday, June 25-27. All show times are 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $10 for students. Call 473-2897 for reservations.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Two More Shows


A completely entertaining "Youth Invasion" of The Two Gentlemen of Verona opened last night at the Swan Theatre.

Amid charming performances throughout the ensemble, there were several standouts:

The Two Gents, Rue Mumgaard as the trusting Valentine and Danny Carraher as the torn Proteus;

The Two Clowns, Hunter Maude as the quick-witted Speed and Prestyn Hartman as a delightfully delusional Launce;

The Two Ladies, Emma Gruhl as Silvia and Noemi Berkowitz as Julia, both of whom make us care about what happens even as we laugh at the play's silliness.

Congratulations to everyone, especially our Youth Director, Tom Crew, and Stage Manager, Emma Williams. This Flatwater Education program was made possible by a grant from the Nebraska Humanities Council.

The show continues tonight and tomorrow, Tuesday and Wednesday June 22-23, at the Swan Theatre at Wyuka, 3600 "O" Street in Lincoln. Show time is 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 General, $8 Students and Seniors. Call 473-2897 for reservations.

Photo: Emma Gruhl and Noemi Berkowitz, Silvia and Julia in Flatwater Youth's The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Show Went On!


An audience member's thoughts on last night's stormy staging of The Two Gentlemen of Verona:

Shakespeare at the outdoor Swan Theater! The Two Gentlemen from Verona with a Nebraska thunderstorm. Sweet Silvia proclaiming from the balcony with rain pelting her face as she shouted her lines over the rolling thunder! The play continued, after the lightning passed, in the portico -- with the audience flanking the walls and the actors making up stage direction as they went along. It was Shakespeare at his best.


And from two of our actors:

The show must go on!! Last night, the Two Gents cast performed the 2nd Act under the covered barn entrance, with audience and cast all huddled together while the gale stormed on around us. So freeing, so playful, so FUN! Thanks for reminding me of the JOY of live theatre!

Best Two Gents show ever.


And from Bob Hall, the director:

Last night 2Gents performed the end of the play (last 4 scenes or so) in the covered entrance tunnel to the barn with the audience standing around us in a semi-circle and the storm raging behind us. It was glorious. I'll remember it forever.



You won't find a more dedicated and joyful ensemble than the cast of Flatwater Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona!


Performances continue at the Swan Theatre at Wyuka, 3600 O Street in Lincoln, Friday-Sunday, June 18-20 and Thursday-Sunday, June 24-27. All show times are 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $10 for students. Call 473-2897 for reservations.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Audience Comments on Flatwater Shakespeare's "The Two Gentlemen of Verona"


Thanks and ever thanks! You guys do a splendid job. Was great to see some new talented faces along side the talented regulars (notice I didn't say "old faces")! Special thanks to Launce and Speed; and shout out to the ladies. NICE JOB! You took every scene and made them hum...But everybody did great! Thoroughly enjoyed you. Have a GREAT run!

Congrats on a great show!

That last scene in Two Gentlemen is tough - to be true to the words as written, but to also provide a terrific, STRONG woman response is so hard to do. And those two ladies did it about the best I've ever seen . . .

I loved it . . . When a woman loves a man who has a best friend he's known forever . . . she almost always has to do that at some point!

Make the drive to Lincoln . . . terrific show . . . wonderful acting . . . maybe the best Shakespeare in the area this summer . . .

Great job everyone! It was a fun show.

Great show! Our Canadian friends have been raving about it since last night.

Awesomeness! We loved the show!

We had a wonderful time! The show was fantastic!

This show is simply awesome! Loved it. I'll telling my friends to see it.


Flatwater Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona, directed by Bob Hall, plays nightly at the Swan Theatre at Wyuka, 3600 O Street in Lincoln. Performances continue Thursday-Sunday, June 17-20 and 24-27. All show times are 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $10 for students. Call 473-2897 for reservations.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Must-See This Summer!


Review of Flatwater Shakespeare’s “The Two Gentlemen of Verona”

By Ladd Wendelin, Star City Blog


Even the Bard had an off day.

The Riverside Shakespeare refers to The Two Gentlemen of Verona as having “the unenviable distinction of being the least loved and least regarded of Shakespeare’s comedies.” This rather frank observation was not entirely without reason. As one of Shakespeare’s first comedies, many of the themes and dramatic devices used in Two Gentlemen, including misbegotten passions, disguises, and lovelorn poetry under balconies, Shakespeare would later explore to greater effect in his more accomplished plays.

However, director Bob Hall and his seasoned ensemble cast have more than risen to the challenge to give Two Gentlemen the much needed care and attention it so richly deserves. In doing so, they have managed to not only continue Flatwater Shakespeare’s superb tradition of quality outdoor theatre, but produce quite possibly one of the best tickets during this summer theatre season – a crowd-pleasing, family-friendly show that showcases a strong diversity of local talent and the inexhaustible theatrical inventiveness of Bob Hall as a director.

While a synopsis of the somewhat convoluted plot is thankfully included in the program for reference, Two Gentlemen follows the passionate exploits of . . .two. . .gentlemen. . .of. . .Verona – the roguish Valentine (Darin Hemmer) and his bosom friend, the dashing Proteus (Gage Wallace). Proteus is head over heels for Julia (Maya Naff), while in nearby Milan, Valentine is smitten with Silvia (Petrea Whittier). In a sensational debacle of misappropriated affections, battle of the sexes, and crossed wires, Proteus falls for Silvia. At this point, Shakespeare begins to explore the limits of friendship and the conflict that occurs when romantic love supplants Platonic love. In any case, everyone eventually gets his or her just desserts during the thrilling conclusion.

“I do not seek to quench your love’s hot fire,” Lucetta tells Julia. “But to qualify the fire’s extreme rage, Lest it should burn above the bounds of reason.” Good advice often falls on deaf ears in Shakespeare’s plays, although the ensuing action is not as tragic as Lucetta might suggest. This is a comedy, after all, but as a comedy, we come to discover how sorely flawed and what pathetic romantics Valentine and Proteus truly are. And that, Shakespeare might argue, is hilarious!

Staged in the Swan Theatre at Wyuka Cemetery, it’s always refreshing to see a set that works with the architecture of an outdoor space rather than against it. This feat, designed by Richard Imig, with uneven planks of wood against the facades of the carriage house, manages to enhance the raw materials of the space while simultaneously providing plenty of world for the actors to live in. As seems to be the tradition with Flatwater Shakespeare, doublets and tights have been replaced with the sports and leisure fashion of the 1920s for Two Gentlemen.

Although set in Verona and Milan, one could easily imagine these characters trading barbs with each other on the French Riviera or on a Mediterranean retreat. The re-imagining of the setting as suggested by Janice Stauffer’s costumes only enhances Shakespeare’s language and the actor’s portrayals.

It was difficult to point out any one or two performances as standouts in Two Gentlemen since each cast member seemed to contribute invaluably to the onstage energy and spirit of the play. Darin Hemmer portrayed Valentine with zest, while Maya Naff neatly played the conflicted Julia with accomplished grace. Comedic relief from Robie Hayek as Launce and Andy Dillehay as Speed nicely balanced the hazards of love between the titular duo and their obstinate sweethearts. A string quartet provided a light-hearted soundtrack, serenading the audience while informing them of the occasional changes in setting. And Launce’s dog Crab, played with devoted craft and precision by Taz, a red Border Collie, wasn’t bad either!

The many charms, classic characters, and lyricism of Two Gentlemen are hardly deadened by Flatwater Shakespeare’s treatment, despite being the “least loved” of Shakespeare’s plays. As such, it is certainly a must-see this summer!

The Two Gentlemen of Verona plays nightly at the Swan Theatre at Wyuka, 3600 O Street in Lincoln. Performances continue Saturday-Sunday, June 12-13; and Thursday-Sunday, June 17-20 and 24-27. All show times are 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $10 for students. Call 473-2897 for reservations.


Photo: Darin Hemmer as Valentine and Petrea Whittier as Silvia in Flatwater Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Credit: John Nollendorfs).

Friday, June 11, 2010

Engaging, Talented, Entertaining


“Gentlemen” Is Fun Showcase
Jeff Korbelik, Lincoln Journal Star

Veteran director Bob Hall has an eye for up-and-coming actors.

His latest show - Flatwater Shakespeare's staging of The Two Gentlemen of Verona — is a perfect example of it.

The comedy, which played to a packed opening-night crowd Thursday at the Swan Theatre in Wyuka Cemetery, features engaging performances by the young cast, led by title characters Gage Wallace and Darin Hemmer.

Gentlemen is the first of Shakespeare's comedies, so it's not as polished as those that follow.

Still, the story — two men pursuing love and romance in 1930s Italy — holds water, and, if anything, is easier to follow than some of the later ones with multiple characters and plotlines.

Wallace and Hemmer both connect with their characters. Wallace is cunning, while Hemmer is sincere. And both are suave.

Their love interests — played by Maya Naff and Petrea Whittier — are just as charming, with both providing the necessary spunk for their characters.

The scene stealers, however, are Andy Dillehay and Robie Hayek as the gentlemen's servants.

Dillehay engaged in several moments of witty repartee with Wallace and Hemmer.

And Hayek, well, he may be Lincoln's best comedic actor right now. The bit he performs with his shoes is reminiscent of a young Steve Martin in "The Jerk."

Hayek is seen on stage with a well-trained border collie, which, of course, instantly wins over the crowd and helps produce laughs.

The show runs at 2 1/2 hours, with minimal set design. Janice Stauffer's costumes convey the mood and time.

Also watch for Hall's clever use of props, from badminton rackets to golf clubs to a rope ladder.

Who knew he could get so much mileage out of a ukulele and Mike Lee's performance on it?

"Two Gentlemen" is fun, with the comedy providing a platform for some of Lincoln's bright, young actors, whom audiences will find quite talented and entertaining.


The Flatwater Shakespeare Company presents The Two Gentlemen of Verona in the Swan Theatre at Wyuka, 3600 O Street in Lincoln. Performances continue Friday-Sunday, June 11-13; and Thursday-Sunday, June 17-20 and 24-27. All show times are 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $10 for students. Call 473-2897 for reservations.

Photo: Darin Hemmer as Valentine and Petrea Whittier as Silvia in Flatwater Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Credit: John Nollendorfs).

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Music in "The Two Gentlemen of Verona"


This early play by Shakespeare – perhaps his very first comedy – includes themes and even specific language that the playwright would explore for the rest of his career. It also includes his very first song lyrics:

Who is Silvia? What is she,
That all our swains commend her?
Holy, fair and wise is she;
The heav’ns such grace did lend her,
That she might admir’d be.

Is she kind as she is fair?
For beauty lives with kindness.
Love doth to her eyes repair,
To help him of his blindness,
And, being help’d, inhabits there.

Then to Silvia let us sing,
That Silvia’s excelling;
She excels each mortal thing
Upon the dull earth dwelling:
To her let us garlands bring.

And the play also includes his very first dialogue that plays on the ideas of musical harmony, discord, and changes.

For this production of the play, we’ve devised a musical setting of the song that matches our temporal setting: the 1930s. Our Outlaws double as Songsters, with Mike Lee on ukelele and vocals, Bret Olsen on double bass and vocals, and Will Bennett on vocals (and scat singing); our Sir Thurio, Clay Stevens, adds guitar and vocals.

Other music that we use in the show has been inspired by the Gershwin Brothers, by Ukelele Ike (the voice of Jiminy Cricket), and by the sublime Inkspots. You’ll find that Shakespeare fits very comfortably in the movie musical world of Fred and Ginger, of desperate longings, of mismatched devotion, and (as our playwright claims elsewhere) of All’s Well That Ends Well.

The Flatwater Shakespeare Company presents The Two Gentlemen of Verona in the Swan Theatre at Wyuka, 3600 O Street in Lincoln, beginning Thursday, June 10, at 7:30 p.m. Performances continue Friday-Sunday, June 11-13; and Thursday-Sunday, June 17-20 and 24-27. All show times are 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $10 for students. Call 473-2897 for reservations.

(Picture: C. E. Perugini, Silvia)