Shakespeare Festival celebrates 69th year
Each year, Hofstra’s Department of Drama and Dance presents highly anticipated celebrations of Shakespearean works in the annual Shakespeare Festival. The festival, now in its 69th year, features performances of the Renaissance master’s plays, as well as musicals, lesser known works and brief adaptations of longer works. In concurrence with the festival, various symposiums and lectures are held on campus discussing the works being presented. This year, the plays presented are “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” “Something Wicked” and “Love Is Your Master.”
This year’s featured full-length play, “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” is running from March 1-11, and is notably one of the first performances to display Hofstra’s new Globe Stage, designed by Professor David Henderson. Unveiled in 2017, the new Globe Stage incorporates the most up-to-date research and understanding of Shakespeare’s original Globe Theatre into its architecture.
“The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” last performed at Hofstra in 1978, is a comedy of conflicts that presents a rather unlikely plot touching on themes such as lust, love, loyalty and atonement. This year’s Sunday matinee was a very well-executed performance done by practiced student actors and actresses. Lights in the John Cranford Adams Playhouse remained on and un-dimmed throughout the show to allow for a full view of the new Globe Stage and all the performers on it. While this seemed unusual at first, it added another element of authenticity to the show.
Light, lively and likeable from the very beginning, “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” opened with a cheery a cappella melody. Musical accompaniment was slight and saved for sound effects and brief scene changes. The Baroque-style costumes were exquisitely assigned to further juxtapose characters; emotional and loyal lovers like Valentine and Julia dressed in orange and pink, while milder, more calculating and poised characters, such as their respective sweethearts Sylvia and Proteus, dressed in blues.
Stellar performances came from Lauren Dietzel (Julia) and Michelle Pagano (Speed), both of whom were received very well by the audience. Bryan Raiton performed the role of a vain and pompous Thurio commendably. Altogether, the entire play was very well cast and the show was both charming and engaging.
“The Two Gentlemen of Verona” will run through next weekend. Additionally, the festival continues with a one-hour adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” titled “Something Wicked,” running from March 5-10 on the Globe Stage. The musical portion of the festival, titled “Love Is Your Master,” will be a one-time performance done on Saturday, March 10 at 2 p.m., also on the new Globe Stage at the John Cranford Adams Playhouse. This special performance will celebrate various songs, madrigals and instrumental music from the Renaissance and early Baroque eras evoking the power of love.