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Preview: Two Gentlemen of Verona

Girls swagger on stage sporting 5 o’clock shadows, a dog constantly upstages his master and a love triangle forces its way between two friends in Belmont’s production of “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.”

The modernization of Shakespeare’s earliest comedy focuses on the power of love and deception. When is it OK to tell a seemingly harmless lie, and when has it gone too far?

To prove Shakespeare’s timelessness, the show is set in modern-day Verona -complete with skinny jeans and fanny packs.

“Many college students have an idea of what authentic Shakespeare looks like,” said director James Al-Shamma. “We don’t have to do it in tights and doublets to be authentic Shakespeare.”

The set was designed as an open piazza. At center stage, a beautiful mosaic rests, copied from an Italian abbey with a crooked past, drawing on the theme of the show.

Shadows and curtains hung from balconies are used to emphasize the theme of deception in the set. With a curtain or a veil, part of the image can be seen, but not the full picture.

Apart from the mosaic on the floor, the set is very simple with three balconies framing the open piazza. Shakespeare’s language creates the scenery to some extent, said Al-Shamma.

Since there are four men in a cast of 16, five women filled in the rest of the mens’ roles.

The players pump up their energy by fake fighting backstage and pretending to punch each other to prepare for their performance as men, said actress Kristen Ladd.

“It’s alarming how manly I look,” said Ladd. “I’ve got the side smile down, the guy smile, but I’m still learning the walk.”

There are actually 17 cast members, including a dog, who adds bonus comedic moments throughout his scenes. With a live dog, you never know what reaction you might get.

“He is such a ham,” said actress Shannon Clark, whose character Lance is the dog’s owner.

“He upstages me all the time.”

The show is a must-see for Shakespeare lovers and first-timers. The hilarious cast tells a modernized tale of the power of love and deception. Do not let the misconceived fear of stuffy Elizabethan Shakespeare keep you from seeing the show.

“The Two Gentlemen of Verona” opens Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Black Box Theater.

Performances continue Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m and Sunday at 2 p.m. The show will return Nov. 12-15 with shows at 7:30 p.m.

Seating is limited and tickets can be purchased from the Curb Event Center box office. Belmont students are free.

The article was written by Rachel Novak.

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