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Enjoy a special treat on Mother’s Day weekend by attending the Florence-Carlton High School’s production of William Shakespeare’s comedy “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” a collaboration with the Florence-Carlton Shakespeare Company and FCHS choirs, May 10-12.

This is the fourth year for the drama team to be an exclusive Shakespeare company.

Drama educator and Florence-Carlton Shakespeare Company Director Derk Schmidt said this is a niche that sets FCHS apart.

“The productions have a consistent uniqueness to them through the music, set and approach to acting,” Schmidt said. “Our students embrace Shakespeare and perform at a professional level. These texts are challenging, but our students study the language with rigor and develop a deep understanding of the text.”

The basic humorous plot of “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” is that two friends, Valentine and Proteus, have dating mix-ups, drama and everyone gets married in the end.

The production features an original score composed, performed and recorded by Schmidt.

FCHS Choir Director Amy Smart collaborated with Schmidt in the recording and arrangement process, for the second consecutive year. Several choir students will sing and act during the play to original music composed and arranged by Schmidt and Smart.

“Through the music, our aim is to transport the audience to Italy and provide a mood that is sincere and authentic,” Schmidt said. “I even learned to play accordion for this score to enrich the feel of old Italy even more.”

Smart said she believes in the FCHS arts programs and in the quality experience drama and choir provides for them.

“High school is an extraordinary time of social and emotional development so helping students finding a place where they feel accepted, safe and supported is critical,” she said. “It’s in these places that they learn to explore their passions and develop who they are. The students involved in this production juggle academics, sports, jobs, home and social lives, and are still able to commit to creating a high-caliber production.”

She said student passion and enthusiasm motivate her to “go the extra mile for them” especially in a day where students are “constantly plugged-in and have become accustomed to instant gratification.”

“I find it refreshing to be around students who understand the value of collaboration, face-to-face connectedness and hard work,” Smart said. “With two teachers arranging, recording and composing a completely original score to accompany the stage production, this is more than your average high school play. You need to come and experience it for yourselves.”

Sophomore Kinsey Church, technical director and property master, said the cast and crew have worked hard to produce an exceptional and modernized take on “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.”

“We are extremely proud of our production and cannot wait to share it with our community,” he said. “We believe that audiences will find that Shakespeare’s words and lessons have as much relevance and wisdom today as they did almost 430 years ago. In every one of his plays, there is something each audience member can take away, and at least one character or experience that is relatable.”

Junior Grace Edgar, stage manager, said it is important for the community to be exposed to a new style of theatre.

“Our program is full of dedicated students who work extremely hard on these shows and take pride in what we accomplish,” Edgar said. “As a student, I think our Shakespeare Company is a prominent force in our community.”

Senior and Student Director Phoebe Hall said the FCHS Shakespeare Company has been important to her.

“It’s taught me discipline and teamwork,” she said. “We build beautiful sets from the ground up in a gym because we don’t have an auditorium and we get to know Shakespeare’s plays that are over 400 years old in such a way that we are actually able to relate them to our own lives.”

Senior and Assistant Director Alex Berna said the performances are above and beyond expectations in the community and classroom.

“We focus on professionalism and can adapt to any circumstance while having a great time doing so,” she said. “It will be an unforgettable experience, one that will leave you in awe of a professional group that is here to tell you a captivating story. You won't wonder how we pulled it off, you'll just be happy that we did.”

Senior Zach Henderson, plays Proteus, the lead male role in the play.

He said his favorite about being in the production is, “how close-knit we are and how we work together as a family.”

Schmidt said Henderson leads by example.

“His greatest talent is his ability to react to situations while balancing his own delivery of dialogue,” Schmidt said. “He has undertaken a significant role and impresses the class daily with his acting prowess.”

Cast is Zach Henderson — Proteus; Alex Berna — Antonio; Molly Kendall — Launce; Aaron Treat — Panthino; Kody Tolson — Valentine; Kinsey Church — Speed; Phoebe Hall — Julia; Anna Stiegler — Lucetta; Alex Berna — Duke of Milan; Grace Edgar — Silvia; Olivia Berard — Eglamour; Jesse Sage — Thurio; and Monica Koerner — host.

Chorus is Autumn Hall, Hannah Mclean, Nathan Webber, Jackson Pascua, Chip Caldwell, Tyler Young, Hailey Greer, Aaron Treat, Monica Koerner and Anna Stiegler.

Directors and crew are Derk Schmidt — director; musical director and sound engineer; Phoebe Hall — student director and production manager; Amy Smart — vocal/choral director; Alex Berna — assistant director; Kinsey Church — technical director; Aaron Treat — director of lighting; Aaron Treat and Hailey Greer — lighting; Grace Edgar — stage manager; Phoebe Hall — wardrobe master; Kinsey Church — property master; Wayne Schmidt — set engineer; Derk Schmidt — set design; Brock Elam — playbill designer; and Anna Stiegler — director’s assistant.

“These students have worked tirelessly for nearly six months to prepare for these performances,” Schmidt said. “Live theatre is a shared experience between actors and audience, this show will not disappoint.”

“The Two Gentlemen of Verona.” will be performed in the new gym at Florence Carlton High School, 5602 Old Highway 93, at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 10, Saturday, May 11, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 12.

Tickets cost $4 for general admission and $2 students and faculty, and can be purchased from any drama student or at the door.

The Florence-Carlton Shakespeare Company has more expansive goals of producing higher level plays, traveling to other schools to perform Shakespearean plays and introduce their talents to different audiences around Florence.

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