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Theatre Review (LA): Two Gentlemen From Chicago by Matt Walker and the Troubadour Theatre Company at the Falcon Theatre

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The hilarious Troubadour Theatre Troupe, led by the incorrigible Matt Walker, have brought their latest creation, Two Gentlemen From Chicago, to the Falcon Theatre. The “Troubies” specialize in two things, doing Christmas shows (The First Joel, It’s a Stevie Wonderful Life, Frosty The Snow Manilow, A Christmas Carol King) and adaptation of Shakespeare plays in which they put their own particular hilarious twists on the goings-on. Examples of this are Fleetwood Macbeth, A Midsummer Saturday Night’s Fever Dream, Hamlet The Artist Formerly known as Prince of Denmark,The Withers Tale.

On occasion they venture outside of these parameters and have used other stories that are neither Shakespeare nor Christmassy (Oedipus The King, Mama, Alice in One Hit Wonderland).

As you may have gathered from the titles they take a known quantity, twist it up in hilarious fashion, and tell the story through music by famous bands of musicians (altered words).

Two Gentlemen of Chicago uses Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona and tells the story through the music of the group Chicago. Some of his regulars were there. Rick Batalia, who is liable to go off in any direction that grabs him; Lisa Valenzuela, who has a great voice; Beth Kennedy, a real pillar of the company because she is a triple threat, singer dancer, actor; and the multi-talented Matt Walker himself. Several others in the company are repeaters too.

A new addition to the company is Rob Nagle, one of the artistic directors of Antaeus, who is comfortable in comedy, the classics, but whose dog Roosevelt the Pug steals the show as Crab. The funniest Crab I have ever seen.

The show drags a bit but that is largely due to the ins and outs of Shakespeare’s plot, one of the more convoluted in the canon.

The music under the direction of Eric Heinley was superb, the props, the costumes were better than ever thanks to Sharon McGunigle (costumes) and Corey Womack (props). Christine Lakin provided some lively choreography (they actually have a few real dancers on board). Sets were by Jeffrey McLaughlin and Jeremy Pivnick was the lighting designer.

Two Gentlemen From Chicago will be performed at the Falcon Theatre until April 22nd. Tickets are scarce.

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