The new Public Theater production of the 1971 John Guare-Mel Shapiro-Galt MacDermot musical adaptation of The Two Gentlemen of Verona will star David Costabile, Rosario Dawson, Oscar Isaac, Megan Lawrence, Norm Lewis and Paolo Montalban.
Dawson, cast as Julia, will play Mimi in the upcoming film of Rent. She is known for such films as "The 25th Hour" and "He Got Game." Lawrence, who will play Lucetta, is a veteran of Urinetown. The show's Valentine, Norm Lewis' most recent credit was Dessa Rose at Lincoln Center. Constabile, playing Launce, was in Caroline, or Change.
The musical will play Aug. 16-Sept. 11 and will be directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall—her first major assignment since winning a Tony Award for her choreography of Wonderful Town.
The cast also features Tracee Beazer, Bridget Berger, John Cariani, Kate Chapman, Christine Digiallonardo, Shakiem Evans, Ruben Flores, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Danielle Lee Greaves, Joanne Javien, Mel Johnson Jr., Raymond J. Lee, Dequina Moore, Maurice Murphy, Richard Ruiz, Stacey Sargeant, Don Stephenson, Amber Stone, Will Swenson, JD Webster and Noah Weisberg.
Verona holds a big place in the Public Theater's history. It was the first Public Theater production to transfer to Broadway. (Hair transferred to Broadway before Verona—in 1968. However, it was transferred not by the New York Shakespeare Festival, but by producer Michael Butler.) The show made its 1971 debut at the Delacorte, with Shapiro directing a cast featuring Raul Julia and Clifton Davis. The locale of the play was switched from Milan and Verona to New York City and Puerto Rico, and the 1971 text made references to contemporary issues such as Vietnam and psychoanalysis. According to the book "It's a Hit," Joseph Papp attended a rehearsal and thought the show a disaster. He proceeded to reconfigure it drastically. When it opened, critics were enthusiastic. Verona transferred to the St. James Theatre where it ran for 613 performances. It won 1972 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical (Guare's only Tony Award to date), and a nomination for Best Original Score.
Stockard Channing and Jeff Goldblum played bit roles in the Broadway staging. Channing later headed a national tour.
According to the Public, the show "will be re-imagined by the original creative team as part of The Public's 50th anniversary celebration."