‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’ set to Sinatra is a theatrical revelation

129_2Gents_506

We hope this review doesn’t cometh too late, as this year’s Shakespeare on the Common production is not to be missed. Luckily, there’s still time to get to a performance, as the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s 18th installment of the free, open-air production — this year “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” — runs through Sunday.

“I don’t think this is the original Shakespeare,” a girl sitting on an adjacent blanket whispered to her companion, as a recording of “Luck Be a Lady” filled the Common with the unmistakable, silky tones of Sinatra’s croon. And indeed, it is not. This is Shakespeare reimagined and reinvented, transplanted to a flashy, Vegas-style Milan and set to the nostalgic, swinging tunes of the Rat Pack era. This is Shakespeare that you have not seen before.

I couldn’t have picked a better night to catch a show. The oppressive heat wave that had many of us under self-imposed house arrest had just broken — a brief, light rain had passed through, leaving the Common glistening with dew in the setting sun — and people flocked to one of the last performances of the season in droves. My companions and I worried that we might not be able to see the stage from our vantage point behind the gazebo (for the record, I’d like to call a moratorium on high-backed beach chairs and fedoras, the man in my direct line of sight had come with both) but, luckily, this group of performers are fine enough actors to emote and entertain through dialogue and song alone.

And what songs! If the Bard as told through the music of Old Blue Eyes sounds like an unlikely marriage, it is. But it’s also a great one. “Two Gentlemen”’s soundtrack is a mix of Sinatra recordings and live renditions of classic Sinatra-era hits. The live numbers are performed with particular aplomb by Peter Cambor (as the scheming Proteus) and Ellen Adair (the glamorous Silvia, who has stolen the hearts of Proteus and his unwitting friend Valentine, played by Andrew Burnap).

It would be hard to pick a star of this show, as each each talented actor brings something unique to the stage. Jenna Augen as Julia, the love interest Proteus has cast aside in pursuit of Silvia, brings both brassy neurosis and endearing innocence to her role. Adair, meanwhile, is every inch the vixen, imbuing her blonde bombshell persona with believable sex appeal, largely through vocal innuendo. The breakout stars of this rollicking show, however, might be the four-legged ingenues — CommShakes has incorporated dogs into the show, a surprise that enchanted the entire audience.

Enchanting is the word, I think, for this year’s production. Perhaps it was a unique alchemy of the cast’s obvious enthusiasm for their craft, an audience ready to be wowed, and one beautiful midsummer’s eve, but this reviewer was swept up.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…