“Two Gentlemen of Verona,” the second Main Stage production of the 2016-17 academic year, will be performed at Eastern Connecticut State University from Feb. 23 to March 5. Presented by Eastern’s Theatre Program and Drama Society, the play is a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s early comedy about young people exploring love, friendship and the temptations of city life.

The musical will take place in the Proscenium Theatre of the new Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC) on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 26 at 4 p.m.; Thursday, March 2 at 5:30 p.m.; Friday, March 3 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, March 5 at 4 p.m. The venue’s pit will be used for the first time to feature a live band of musicians.

                 Eastern’s rendition of “Two Gentlemen of Verona” features a cast of 32 students, directed by Theatre Professor David Pellegrini, with musical direction by guest conductor Anthony Pandolfe and choreography by Professor Alycia Bright-Holland. The multi-level set was designed by theatre student Nicole Rivera, with lighting design by theatre student Megan O’Brien and costume design by Professor Anya Sokolovskaya.

Originally produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival (incubator of such landmark musicals as “A Chorus Line” and “Hamilton”), the play was adapted by award-winning playwright John Guare (“House of Blue Leaves” and “Six Degrees of Separation”). “Two Gentlemen of Verona” received rave reviews after its December 1971 opening and won the Tony Award for Best Musical of 1972.

As Clive Barnes of the New York Times stated, “… it has a surge of youth to it, at times an almost carnal intimation of sexuality, and a boisterous sense of love…. The story of love and love’s suddenness is certainly substantial enough for a musical, and archeological chips of the Shakespearean text that crop up from time to time fit in most snugly with the music and the additions. At times the poetry sounds ironic (which is fun enough), but most of the time it seems perfectly natural, which perhaps shows that there is rarely anything wrong with a musical book that a little blank verse might not put right.”

Tickets are free for Eastern students; $5 for other students and groups of 10 or more; $10 for Eastern faculty, staff, alumni and senior citizens; and $15 for the general public. For ticket information and reservations, please call the FAIC box office at 860-465-5123 or email theatreboxoffice@easternct.edu. To purchase tickets online, visit www.easternct.showare.com/twogentlemen/.