The Monroe County Civic Theater presented its 109th production of its 23rd season this past weekend.
Janice Clevenger, a founding member of the civic theater, and Sheila Butler, an active participant in and co-directer of the theater, directed William Shakespeare’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona.” As a part of the theater’s well-known Shakespeare in the Park series, this classic found its way onto the stage at Third Street Park.
Despite a strong rain storm and tornado warning Friday that canceled the show, the production went on with its opening night on Saturday. In five acts, “Two Gentlemen of Verona” tells the story of two friends: Proteus, portrayed by new Bloomington resident Thomas Root, and Valentine, acted out by senior Brent Williamson.
The play, however, is much more than that. It is a tale of treachery, deceit, feigned love and fickleness. If you’re not familiar with the works of Shakespeare, the plot line might be hard to grasp, but it’s a comical play that reveals the power of friendship and true love.
The four leads give wonderful performances in their roles, and the main story line certainly captivates the audience with its twists and turns. The side plots of the servants which weave throughout the main story arc are comical and bring clarity to the events of the play.
Cameron Butler, a student at Jackson Creek Middle School, brought life to Speed, Valentine’s servant. He jolted across the stage, and his quips about love and his master were entertaining. Butler brought a modern approach to the character of Speed.
Actor Andy Alphonse, who played Launce, Proteus’ servant, also brought a modern approach to the stage with his comical performance. One scene in particular shows Launce and his dog Crab, portrayed by dog Daisy Heise. Launce gives a monologue about Crab’s seriousness and unwillingness to shed a tear, and his speech to Daisy was witty.
“It was lovely,” said Bloomington resident and doctoral student Cindy Rogers, who brought her dog along to the play. Rogers said she thought her dog enjoyed the parts of the play that showcased two other dogs on stage.
The performance showcased the many talents in Bloomington and was a great way to experience traditional outdoor theater while the weather is nice.
Clevenger and Butler designed the intricate and authentic-looking costumes. Clevenger has costumed 85 productions for the civic theater.
Bloomington resident Britney Bowen thought the play was well done even with such a young cast.
“I thought it was very well done,” she said. “It was very hard to hear, however.”
Although there are speakers to project the sound of the actors, audience members should sit close to the front so they can experience all the action up close.
“I hope more people come to see it, and they’ll spread the word they saw,” Butler said.
She said she also hopes for blue skies and sun after experiencing the rainstorm that washed out Friday’s performance.
The production continues next week with performances at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. It is free, but donations are accepted at intermission.
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