Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Galt MacDermot, John Guare, Sheila Gibbs|
Two Gentlemen of Verona (1971 Original Broadway Cast)
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
It's hard to get more embedded in the early 1970s than an encounter with Two Gentlemen of Verona. The show embodies a long-gone chunk of New York theater history, when a musical's racially integrated cast was taken for gra... more »
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It's hard to get more embedded in the early 1970s than an encounter with Two Gentlemen of Verona. The show embodies a long-gone chunk of New York theater history, when a musical's racially integrated cast was taken for granted; when a producer like the Public Theater's Joseph Papp thought it his duty to bring the classics to the masses; when composer Galt MacDermot (best known for Hair) and lyricist John Guare made Shakespeare pop, in all the meanings of the word, without dumbing it down. So yes, Two Gentlemen of Verona is of its time--and it was a fabulous time. Led by Raul Julia, the cast breathes uncommon energy into MacDermot's score. All right, so it's not Hair, but this show still has a lot more kick and melodies than most of what's currently on Broadway. Just check "What Does a Lover Pack" and "To Whom It May Concern Me," or the way "Follow the Rainbow" segues into "Where's North" and its rocking brass arrangements: fabulous! This recording had been out of print for too long, and it's great to have it available again. --Elisabeth Vincentelli
If It's Good Enough for Shakespeare, It's Good Enough for Us
Michael G. Dell'Orto | Wilton, New Hampshire USA | 05/19/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Two Gentlemen of Verona has always occupied an awkward place in the history of musical theatre, at least for critics and afficionados. Originally produced in the summer of 1971 as a part of the free Shakespeare in the Park program at Joe Papp's Public Theatre in New York City, it was transferred to the St. James Theatre on Broadway in December of that year and ran for 627 performances. It won Tonys in 1972 for Best Book of a Musical and Best Musical, beating out Stephen Sondheim's Follies (and, for that matter, Grease, which had odds as the popular favorite), the fact of which can still evoke rumblings of resentment from hardcore Sondheim fans and other musical theatre junkies who to this day hold a grudge. There have been no major revivals of the show in the last thirty years except for a very few notable exceptions in regional theatre. Certainly, just listening to the CD, you would be hard pressed to understand what all the fuss was about. Sure, some of the tunes are catchy and fun, a few of the lyrics clever and even funky, but there is a reason it has taken thirty years for the original double LP cast album to finally come out on CD. This is a good reissue; all of the sonic problems on the original LP have been cleaned up for this release. The liner notes and reminiscences are great as well. TGOV is pleasant to listen to, but this score cannot and does not stand on its own very well, certainly not in the way that Follies does. So why buy it? I was lucky enough to have seen the show after it moved to Broadway. It was ebullient, energetic, a celebration of multiculturalism before we even knew there was such a word. The score by Galt MacDermot, which is preserved almost in its entirety on this CD, came only a few years after the runaway success of Hair. MacDermot, with playwright John Guare (The House of Blue Leaves, Six Degrees of Separation) used Shakespeare's play as a jumping-off point to write a musical about youth and age, change, growth, friendship, love and responsibility. It was an exciting and joyous evening of theatre, and a genuine celebration of the transformative nature of love. It encapsulates the best of the spirit of the late 60's and early 70's in America, when we still believed that the power of love could make the world a better place. There are excellent performances by Raul Julia, Clifton Davis, Diana Davila and Jonelle Allen; and, if you dig deep enough into the credits, you will see that both Jeff Goldblum and Stockard Channing were in the chorus! This is a CD that belongs on every collectors' shelf."
Yes, it's a period piece, but a worthy show
Joshua Gordon | 01/15/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Finally! I can't wait to buy this cd. I just found my ancient cassette copy of my brother's even more ancient double lp and listened to it for the first time in over 25 years - and found myself transported back to when we saw the show way back in 1972, when I was only 7 going on 8. I still vividly remember the mass of scaffolding on stage as we walked into the St James theater, and wondering why the place seemed like it was under construction, only to be astonished at the transformation that took place as the show unfolded. Too bad there isn't a DVD - the show was riotously colorful to watch, with an electrifying cast and idealistic spirit. It was the first time I ever saw Raul Julia, and will always be my most vivid impression of him. Jonelle Allen too, a real powerhouse actress and singer. TGOV is right up there with Pippin and The Wiz as one of the most lively and memorable shows of my childhood, and having played a few Broadway pits in more recent years as a professional musician I still think that even if it seems dated and groovy it is far more inventive than most (although Sondheim's shows of the 70's remain the most sophisticated). Enjoy.
Lydian String Quartet"
Shakespeare for Everybody (Again!)
Birdman | Minnetonka, MN USA | 11/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was one of the fortunate theatregoers who saw this show on Broadway in 1972 with its original cast. I am 52 years old, and cannot recall having a more joyous time at a musical than at TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA.
Of course, it helps if you get a kick out of Shakespeare's comedies, even the less successful ones, to enjoy the comic pizzazz of these lyrics. Galt MacDermott and John Guare did masterful work transforming centuries-old poetry to modern day words and music. Live and in-person, it worked flawlessly, and as a result earned Joseph Papp and company the Tony for Best Musical in its premiere season.
The orchestrations (as in, eg. WHO IS SILVIA?) are spiffy and many stand the test of time. There is a lot of camp and parody to this musical, though, so let the buyer beware. If you don't like this approach to comedy, you may not be happy with your purchase.
For those who buy, however, the CD is a 78-minute blast because the actors are having such a good time. Raul Julia was a comic genius in the show -- as were Clifton Davis, Jonelle Allen and Diana Davilla; their talents shine through here.
I've read reviewers on amazon who have panned this effort, and simply don't understand their point of view. It may be that they simply dislike musicals from the over-commercial '70's. It may be that TWO GENTLEMEN'S arrangements pale in comparison to those performed by today's pit orchestras.
But I promise you: Play this after a long week, and you may find yourself line-dancing in the living-room with your dinner guests. You may also be inspired to read Shakespeare's two-star, but wonderfully silly play.
Five stars and welcome back."