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Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

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).


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