Friday, August 31, 2007

The City Paper


Outrageous comedy finds love in Milan
NSF Apprentice Co. shows ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’


As one of Shakespeare’s earliest works, The Two Gentlemen of Verona offers a whimsical story of young love and friendship. So who better to stage such a lighthearted play than the Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s Byron and Beth Smith Apprentice Company?

Featuring 15 talented teens, as well as a number of professional stage veterans, The Two Gentlemen of Verona incorporates a fanciful circus theme – complete with colorful clown costumes, silly sound effects and plenty of onstage antics.

The play introduces us to lifelong friends Valentine and Proteus – the two gentlemen to which the title refers – who travel to Milan in search of their fortunes. Instead, their friendship is tested when the fickle Proteus falls for Valentine’s beloved Silvia. Of course true love prevails, but not without the obligatory series of comic complications, including everything from a botched elopement and a merry band of outlaws to a heartbroken female character forced to disguise herself as a man.

Directed by NSF’s Education Outreach Coordinator Claire Syler, Two Gentlemen maintains a lively pace while showcasing the considerable talents of the young ensemble.

Standouts include Sam Spanjian and Steven Berryessa as Valentine and Proteus respectively. Savannah Frazier (as the lovely Silvia) and Christy White (as poor jilted Julia) offer memorable performances, managing to hold their own against outrageous male counterparts.

But as with many of Shakespeare’s works, the servants provide much of the wisdom – and most of the laughs. In this regard, Alex Spieth is excellent as Valentine’s loyal Speed, delivering tongue-twisting dialogue with a wink and a smile.

Likewise Chris Baldwin is hilarious as the dim-witted Launce, working the enthusiastic audience to maximum effect with a seemingly endless stream of puns – and with a little help from a dog named Crab. Indeed, the pooch (played by the charming Mr. Biggles) is adorable, innocently wagging his tail as Launce repeatedly scolds him and calls him “the sourest natured dog.” As with the NSF’s concurrent production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Two Gentlemen of Verona benefits from the talents of a top-notch creative team. June Kingsbury’s costume design and Scott Boyd’s set reflects the production’s youthful and animated tone. But make no mistake – with the exception of a few technical glitches early on – this show is every bit as polished as any open-air theater production can be. True to its mission, NSF continues to educate and entertain audiences through the timeless stories of Shakespeare. CP

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Post Five
By Ricardo

I can’t believe it’s here! After all of the work and excitement, it’s finally opening night of The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

It’s hard to believe that we started rehearsals over a month ago. Looking back, I’ve learned so much while having a lot of fun. I had no idea what was in store for me when I was accepted as a member of the Apprentice Company. This is my first time experiencing this magnitude of theater. Everyone always brings their “A-game.” We have amazing directors, stage managers, sound engineers, musicians, actors, and lighting directors. Not to mention the people in the audience, many of whom I became familiar with last week at opening night of The Merry Wives of Windsor – they’re great.

The past two weeks have been especially intense. With school starting, we’ve had very long days. The Apprentice Company has really bonded during this time, and we have helped each other make it through. We are a family now, and I’m happy that I have gotten to know everyone. I’m dreading the time when we must part on September 9 because we have grown so much together.

This summer has been one of the best summers of my life. I don’t know how I’ve learned so much in such a little time. Between learning how to juggle, Shakespeare monologues, clowning, and admiring professional actors, the summer has gone by so fast.

Opening night is tonight! We are super-excited. Neither long hours, nor 110-degree heat can stop us...FOR WE ARE APCO ‘07!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Post Four
By Cassie Tesauro

Last week I realized just how compassionate the members of the Apprentice Company are. I woke up last Tuesday morning, and as I started to get ready for rehearsal I developed a horrible migraine. I kept getting ready, but eventually I had to stop and lie down. I missed half of rehearsal because of my migraine and was sick for two days. I made it through rehearsal, but I had to lay low.

Being a member of the Apprentice Company is like being a member of a big family. When you’re ill, everyone watches over you. I even had one of the professional actors tell me to “stop sweeping the stage like a crazy person” because they knew I was still sick.

It’s inspiring to watch the professional actors, both on stage and off stage. They’re all role models for me. If I can grow up to be half as kind and talented as they are, I’ll be happy.

This is my third year in the Apprentice Company, and the reason I keep auditioning is not only because I have a passion for theater, but also because I have a passion for the people who work in theater. There is nowhere else in the world where you can find a group of people who support each other as much as we do.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Post Three
By Zack M.

This is my first year with the Apprentice Company, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was active in my high school theater program, and after graduation I decided to step outside my comfort zone and train with the Apprentice Company. The experience of taking this risk and trying something new is similar to what I am now experiencing through the rehearsal process. I have learned that taking risks is necessary and often it will lead you to places previously unimaginable.

I’ve always considered myself to be a talented actor, and in the past it has been hard to keep my ego in check. Soon after my first few days as a member of the Apprentice Company, I realized that this was a whole different ball game. I was surrounded by a myriad of talented people.

This week a lot has changed. We’ve begun the rehearsal process for The Merry Wives of Windsor and moved to Centennial Park for rehearsals. Our schedule (12:30 – 9:00 p.m.) makes for a long day, but it’s worth it in order to put on a good show. One of the most exciting things as an Apprentice Company member is the opportunity to work with professional adult actors. It’s been quite an experience. The way the professional actors explore their craft is inspiring and has given me many ideas of what I can do to improve my own performance.

It’s also been very cool because my former teacher Randall Lancaster is playing the character of Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Having the opportunity to act with a former instructor has been extremely fun. While it’s very hot outside, everyone is working their hardest despite the heat in order to bring Nashville a fantastic show come mid-August.

During the first two weeks that we built our ensemble, I learned numerous things that have helped to shape the clown world we are preparing. Without a doubt, Apprentice Company training has been one of the most informative theatrical experiences that I have ever had.