Janesville's Theatre Unlimited stages toga party

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Ann Fiore
Wednesday, June 11, 2014

JANESVILLE—Laugh now with Theatre Unlimited's twins, and next year you could be taking speech lessons with Eliza Doolittle.

The Janesville theater group loves staging large, classic musicals. For next year, it has its eye on the rights to “My Fair Lady,” the heartwarming tale of a Cockney flower girl—Eliza—who takes speech lessons so she can pass for a lady.

The license for the show costs thousands of dollars. To raise the money, Theatre Unlimited will stage the twins farce, “The Boys of Syracuse,” on two weekends, June 20-22 and 26-28, at the Janesville Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $21.

Director Stacey Mochnick called “Boys” a laugh-out-loud, musical takeoff on Shakespeare's “Comedy of Errors.”

Set in ancient Greece, the story is about Antipholus and his servant, Dromio, who travel from Syracuse to Ephesus to search for their twins, who were separated from them in a shipwreck. Naturally, the two are mistaken for their brothers, and their plans unravel rapidly.

Bruno Tort and Ron Brown star as the toga-clad Antipholus and Dromio from Syracuse. Matt Johnson and David Bitter play Antipholus and Dromio from Ephesus.

Mochnick said the show will be in JPAC's black-box theater, a small space in the lobby that brings audience and actors closer together.

The audience will sit on both sides of a long stage that resembles a catwalk. No stairs or risers are involved.

“Boys” wouldn't have worked in JPAC's big theater, Mochnick said, because body language plays a role in the jokes.

“It's a lot of facial expressions and double-takes,” she said. “With the audience so far away, people wouldn't get those expressions.”

Performances also will feature a five-piece orchestra playing such songs as “Falling in Love With Love” and “Sing for Your Supper.”

It's not the kind of show Theatre Unlimited normally performs, but Mochnick hopes audiences like it. She directed a performance of “Boys” nearly 20 years ago in Florida.

“I think people will go away humming some of the music,” she said.

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