Showtunes Theatre Company returns to Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall March 23-25 with a concert production of The Boys from Syracuse, based on Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors.
With scripts in hand, and using minimal staging, props and costumes, Showtunes brings to life the original book and the score while showcasing performers from the Seattle area.
The Boys from Syracuse originally debuted on Broadway the Alvin Theater on November 23, 1938, with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart, and book by George Abbott. Abbott directed and George Balanchine choreographed the original production. It closed on June 10, 1939 after 235 performances.
Rodgers and Hart’s score includes swing and other contemporary rhythms of the 1930s. Well-known songs from the score include “Falling in Love with Love.” “This Can’t Be Love” and “Sing for Your Supper.”
Shakespeare aficionadas know the comedy’s plot. But if you’re not familiar, here’s a teaser–mistaken identity. Identical twins Antipholus of Ephesus and Antipholus of Syracuse were separated from each other in a shipwreck as young children. Their servants, both named Dromio, are also long-separated identical twins. When the pair from Syracuse come to Ephesus, a comedy of errors and mistaken identities ensues when the wives of the Ephesians, mistake the two strangers for their husbands.
The show was the first musical based on a Shakespeare play. Many other adaptations of the Bard’s work have since played Broadway, one of the most successful being the 1957 musical West Side Story, based on Romeo and Juliet. Leonard Bernstein wrote the music, Stephen Sondheim the lyrics, and Arthur Laurents, the book.
Cole Porter wrote the 1948 hit musical, Kiss Me Kate, based on The Taming of the Shrew. And the 1997 megahit, The Lion King, was described as “Hamlet on safari” In both plots, an uncle murders the father, the father reappears as a ghost, and the prince exacts revenge on the uncle.
The Boys from Syracuse is what some theater insiders call “a forgotten musical.” Au contraire. A film adaptation was released in 1940. The show was revived Off-Broadway in 1963, had a West End run in 1963, and a Broadway revival in 2002. With the exception of the Off-Broadway run in 1963 (500 performances), the musical was short-lived. The Roundabout Theater’s 2002 production closed after for 73 performances and 29 previews.
But it lasted longer than a raft of other flop Broadway musical adaptations of Shakespeare plays, Play On!, based on Twelfth Night (1997), ran for 61 performances. Rockabye Hamlet (1976), ran for seven performances, and the utterly forgettable Oh, Brother, based on Comedy of Errors (1981), closed after three performances.
Seattle’s Showtunes may have been inspired by the Encores! series at New York City Center, which presents “forgotten” gems in concert. It’s a hot ticket and always sells out.
Produced by Showtunes Theatre in association with Village Theatre, The Boys from Syracuse is being presented as part of the city-wide “Seattle Celebrates Shakespeare” festival this spring. The performance is directed by Steve Tomkins, Artistic Director of Village Theatre
Musical Numbers – Act 1
- “I Had Twins”
- “Dear Old Syracuse”
- “What Do You Do With a Man?”
- “Falling in Love with Love“
- “The Shortest Day of the Year”
- “This Can’t Be Love” –
- “Ladies’ Choice” (Ballet)
- “Let Antipholus In”
- “You Took Advantage of Me”
- “Ladies of the Evening”
- “He and She”
- “You Have Cast Your Shadow on the Sea”
- “Come With Me”
- “Big Brother”
- “Sing for Your Supper”
- “Oh, Diogenes!”
The 2002 revival ended with :
- “Hurrah! Hurroo (reprise) (Sing for Your Supper)”
- “This Can’t Be Love” (reprise)
Showtune’s concert production of The Boys from Syracuse runs March 23-25 in Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall; for tickets, call 206.215.4747 or toll-free: 866.833.4747. Get more information and tickets here.