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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Review- The Boys from Syracuse (CAP 21)

The Fab Marquee review by David Stallings.

Today, many people believe that musical theater began with Rodgers and Hammerstein, specifically with their Oklahoma. But before Oklahoma, there were plays filled with beautiful scores that simply did not move the plot forward. Before Hammerstein, Richard Rodgers worked with Lorenz Hart. The two wrote many beautiful scores and memorable songs. It was a pleasure this past weekend to see CAP21’s production of The Boys From Syracuse, to be reminded of one such score.

Caroline Dooner (Luciana), Jessica Wagner (Luce) &
Melanie Dusel (Adriana)

CAP21 presented the musical as part of their conservatory program—using students from their second year. Conservatory style programs build a wonderful acting company—similar to what other countries do with resident acting theaters. The groups practically live with each other for four years as they study and perform theater. This is surely an exciting time for young actors as they are allowed to focus on their craft and do not yet have to be concerned with selling themselves as entertainment property. In The Boys From Syracuse, the audience could see the excitement and enjoyment of theatre on the faces of each member of the young cast. The Faculty of CAP21 should be commended on choosing a piece well within the range of their students—all of whom had lovely voices.

The Boys From Syracuse is based on Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors and is set in Ancient Rome (think toga party). The plot follows not one, but two sets of twins separated at birth. A lively book by George Abbot takes Shakespeare’s tale and turns it into a sex comedy. The plot—filled with mistaken identities—has been maneuvered into the uniting theme of love. Antipholous of Ephesus (Kevin Wade) is married to Adriana (Melanie Dusel). Adriana gives up on her husband and love altogether when she suspects him of cheating on her. She sings the haunting ballad, Falling in Love with Love. The entrance of his twin brother unbeknownst of him only complicates matters—as of course Antipholous of Syracuse (Matt Dengler) falls for Adriana’s beautiful sister Luciana (Caroline Dooner). Each pair of Antipholous twins is matched with a pair of twin slaves—the Dromios (Craig Fogel and Matthew Steele). One of the Dromios is married to the kitchen maid, Luce (Jessica Wagner), whose unending sexual appetite exhausts both brothers. Filled out with a chorus of courtesans and citizens, The Boys from Syracuse is a delightful evening.

Matt Dengler (Antipholus of Syracuse) &
Craig Fogel (Dromio of Syracuse)

Overall, the cast faired well. The musicality of the group should be applauded as the harmonies were consistent and the blending was smooth. The one aspect lost is the crooning style of the thirties—which was very specific. The lovely ballads were sung well but missed that style—which adds to the romance of the piece. A big kudos should be given to Jessica Wagner as Luce. She truly embodied the period in every sense. Her timing and solid voice paired with a bright smile and sense of humor always brought new breath to the stage. Caroline Dooner as the ingĂ©nue Luciana proved to have a sweet likability. And the Boys from Syracuse themselves, Matt Dengler as Antipholous and Craig Fogel as his Dromio, had the most ease on stage.

Director Lawrence Arancio staged the production well in the tight space. He kept the pace light, bright, and brisk so the play ran under two hours. Choreographer James Bulleri adhered to the thirties’ style and students’ ability. The costumes (Melissa Daghini) were especially fun with the bold colors of comedy. All in all a fun night—and how often do you get to hear such a classic score?

CAP21 presents
The Boys from Syracuse
directed by Lawrence Arancio
April 3-13, 2008
The Shop

*This show is now closed, for information on upcoming CAP21 productions, visit

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