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)

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