What do you get when you cross a Roman comedy by Plautus, an early comedy of Shakespeare and the music and timing of vaudeville? That’s right, you get a musical full of beautiful songs, confused identities and hilarious situations.
“The Boys from Syracuse,” music by Richard Rodgers with lyrics by Lorenz Hart, was one of the first musicals to be adapted from a Shakespeare play in 1938. This weekend, University Productions brings this classic show to the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre.
“The Boys from Syracuse,” based on Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors,” is a story about two sets of identical twins, separated at birth, who unknowingly find themselves in the same town at the same time. Comedy ensues as people confuse one twin for the other, servants mix up one master for his twin and wives mistake strangers for husbands. At the end of the day though, the story is one about love and family.
Alex Michaels, a senior in the School of Music, plays the part of Antipholus, one of the twins. Michaels explained how much he has enjoyed his time working on the play, especially the songs his character gets to sing. “The score is really beautiful, and I was really taken with the music of the character. The music shows a real character progression and journey,” he said.
Michaels also explained that working on a classic like “Syracuse” is a challenge because the timing has to be precise. Since the music has a vaudeville feel, there are “a lot of particular timings,” he said.
Explaining his decision to do this show, Director Brent Wagner said, “I thought it would be a great discovery, doing a 1930s musical.” He spoke about how he really liked doing shows from different eras, especially a play by such a legendary director and writer.
“I think many of the dance numbers are beautifully conceived. Also, there is a point where two of the twins imagine what it would be like to grow up with brothers – that is really great,” Wagner also said,
“The Boys from Syracuse” is a classic featuring beloved songs such as “Falling in Love with Love” and “This Can’t Be Love.” It was revived on Broadway in 1963 and was a popular 1930s musical. It promises to be a night of physical and situational comedy that will have the audience wiping away tears of laughter.