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"Two Gentlemen of Verona" is great for Shakespeare fans of all levels

The cast of

The cast of "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" (photo/Theatre Arts Dept. Facebook)

William Shakespeare's “Two Gentlemen of Verona” is the story of a great journey. It tells the comedic tale of Valentine and Proteus, and their quests for fame and love. On his own journey, Canadian director Dean Gabourie assists in the Ohio Northern University’s Department of Theatre Arts fall production of Shakespeare’s comedy. A seasoned Shakespeare expert, Gabourie is thrilled to work with the Ohio Northern cast, and lends his knowledge to not only to the actors, but to his audience as well. 

Lights will go up in the Stambaugh Studio Theatre of the Freed Center for the Performing Arts on Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. Additional performances are offered on Oct. 23 at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 24 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Oct. 25 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 for ONU students, and can be purchased at the Freed Center’s box office, or here.

Because Shakespeare’s work is public domain, directors are free to let their creativity run wild. Gabourie mentioned in an on-campus interview that one of his colleagues once set “Romeo and Juliet” on the moon, for example. His goal in this production, however, is to stay as true to its original performance as possible. With the exception of some switched gender roles, it is being performed with Shakespeare's own methods in mind. 

Other than adding a song at the top, I think we changed maybe five to 10 words in the whole play, for clarity more than anything else,” Gabourie said. 

ONU’s production of “Two Gentlemen of Verona” is set to a Vaudeville theme, which features a mixture of specialty acts, including burlesque or song and dance. Cast member Patrick Plucinsky said this will be a huge bonus of the show.  “A lot of the main characters are vaudeville stars.” 

This is especially exciting because characters will really get to show their talents, and audience members are not only getting a great show, but small acts within the show as well. Plucinsky also explains the interactivity of this theme, and the unique setting that will contribute to it.   

Throughout the space there are going to be small tables where the audience members will actually sit,” he said.

As with any classic production, the challenge is not to lose the modern day audience to the Elizabethan language in which it was written. Gabourie mentions that this will not be an issue for this production. Audience members with no general knowledge of Shakespeare can expect an “extremely clear production of a very early play.” So instead of being whisked away into a whirlwind of  ‘-eths’ and ‘to bes,’ the viewer will feel a direct connect with those on stage.

Those who are Shakespeare experts will enjoy the young undertones of this play. As one of Shakespeare’s first scripts, it shows the early stages of his playwright career, even some familiar characters. Gabourie says that because Shakespeare was writing with a specific company in mind, it is very likely that portions of “Two Gentlemen of Verona” laid the foundation for his future works. It is important to look out for “elements of all of these characters that he developed much more thoroughly later on.” 

Dean Gabourie has nothing but glowing reviews for the cast of “Two Gentlemen of Verona.”  “It’s been incredible,” he said, calling Ohio Northern’s theater program “astounding.”  As the curtain opens and closes with final bows, Gabourie’s time here will come to an end, but his impact will surely be with us all as we continue the journey.  

Cast members of “Two Gentlemen of Verona” include Sybil Ann Anast as Sylvia; Madeline Chitty as a Showgirl; Josh Heard as Valentine; Talia Heskett as Julia; Haley Noelle Holtje as a Showgirl; Sarah Keune as The Dame of Milan; Annie Liskow as Lance; Tyler Matanick as Antonio; Alecia Pagnotta First Outlaw; and, Patrick Plucinsky as Turio.

Also, Emily Schmid as Lucetta; Nick Sobotka as Pantino; Timothy Ryan Swaim as Speed; Samantha Tilton as a Showgirl; Eli A. Underwood as Sir Eglamour; Nick Wheeler as Third Outlaw; and, Kyle Wilkerson as Proteus.


EDIT: Edited article pictures. 

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