I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into the Gamut Theatre, as I am from Maryland and do not know much about Harrisburg, or many places in PA for that matter. As I opened the doors, any expectations I might have tried to create went out the window. This theatre was gorgeous and I was only in the lobby! I was graciously greeted by three lovely ladies as I paid my donation, hung my coat and was directed into the Capital BlueCross Lobby.
As I walked in all I could say was… whoa. I felt like I was in a movie. The audience was surrounding an open stage area, enjoying their drinks and snacks that were purchased at the bar. Being that I was by myself and didn’t really know what to expect, and the whole room was full, I caught my breath as I started to ask questions to the kind bartender Zane. He shared so much information with me, and was so knowledgeable about all that goes on at the theatre. I was totally surprised and totally excited to now know this place exists!
The play I had the pleasure of attending was Gallathea. This play was apart of the Stage Door Series which seeks to expand the reach of Gamut Theatre Group in its mission to preserve and perform classic stories.
The goal is the presentation of classical material in engaging and educational workshop productions, focused on streamlining the production experience to highlight the essential elements of theatre: the text, the story, the action, and the actors. Because of this, their shows are affordable and accessible to the audience through the motto, “Come as you are, pay what you will.”
Gallathea is an Elizabethan era stage play, a comedy by John Lyly. The first record of the play’s performance was at Greenwich Palace on New Year’s Day, 1588 where it was performed before Queen Elizabeth I and her court by the Children of St Paul’s , a troupe of boy actors.
Before a trouser-wearing Viola swayed Illyrian hearts, before Rosalind dressed as Ganymede and wooed Orlando, before Puck used Cupid’s flower to wreak merry havoc, there was Gallathea. This 1588 gender-bending, love-affirming play by John Lyly is an Elizabethan rarity filled with gods (big and little), sea monsters, overprotective dads, enchanted nymphs, thwarted virgin sacrifices—and two cross-dressed girls who fall head over heels for one another and declare that…
love is love is love.
My dear friend Joshua played the role of Tyterus… a loving father who disguises his beautiful daughter in order to save her life from Neptune. This opening scene set the stage for the entire play. Tyterus comes in with his daughter discussing the demands of Neptune and the need for the village to sacrifice a virgin every five years. The virgin must be the fairest of them all, and is ordered to be tied to a tree so that Agar the sea monster would come and devour her for the good of the community. If they did not provide the fairest virgin, the village would be drowned by Neptune. This demand was payment for the destruction of Neptune’s temples many years before.
The tone was set.
I loved how the first scene was serious, and full of vital information for the rest of the play… and I loved not knowing anything about the play before seeing it. Paying attention to the details to uncover the plot. As the play went on, there were many laughs had, as well as some serious questions that could be posed about the theme of the story and how it relates to whats relevant today. Questions about Love vs Virtue, service to self vs. service to others, and perspectives. It was a beautiful reminder that love is love is love. <3
Francesca Amendolia was the fantastic director. The roles were cast in a way that added a level of depth to the story line, bringing it from the 1500’s into modern day, with an Elizabethan dialect, and I found it easy to follow along. I was thoroughly delighted, entertained, and curious watching this fantastic play!
Their last show is today at 2:30, if you’re free and in the Harrisburg PA area you should totally check it out!
If you’re interested in supporting the local arts, and theatre, a generous Gamut Theatre supporter and donor has offered to match every donation made to Gamut’s capital campaign (up to a total of $500) in honor of today’s performance of Gallathea.