I have been to a million plays at Northwestern over the last five years, but rarely have I had as much fun as I did last night at The Verona Project. An adaptation – sort of – of Two Gentlemen of Verona the play, written by Amanda Dehnert, is a riff on a fictional band’s fictional concept album. I know that sounds strange, but what it means in practice is all the actors play instruments (some of them seemingly play every instrument) and are dressed like folk-indie rockers, complete with tweed jackets and hipster glasses.
The show is in the workshop stages (it is part of the American Musical Theater Project) and you can tell, the actors are on book for some obviously new scenes and some of the songs end a little abruptly. But that being said the cast had an amazing energy and the songs were catchy and emotional and exactly what I wanted them to be. (Particularly the first act love song “Everything is Perfect” – that could be a single from an indie band right now and I would buy it.)
The cast was wonderful, especially Chance Bone (yes that’s actually his name) as Proteus whose selfish tour of self discovery pushes the convoluted (read Shakespearean) plot along. I loved Michelle Schechter as the shallow but kind-hearted Thuria – whose monologue about being a secondary character her in own life struck a great chord. And Madeline Weinstein as Julia whose pluck and sorrow moved me to tears.
Also as Jules and I exclaimed at intermission, it was so refreshing to see a love story about two men that lets their conflict be identical to the straight characters (in fact it was hard to know at times who the straight characters were) instead of AIDS or depression or random unexplained death. I can’t tell you how many plays I sat through in that same theater complex that broke my heart with an unnecessary tragic ending, it was great to just enjoy the fun.
The show runs Thursday-Sunday through November 4th at the Josephine Louis Theater 20 Arts Circle Drive in Evanston