“Dress The Part” Brings Hip-Hop, Comedy and Drama to The Ready Room
Directed by award-winning theatrical duo the Q Brothers, “Dress the Part” is a new hip-hop musical based on the Shakespearean play “Two Gentlemen of Verona.” One of Shakespeare’s earlier works, the play is a story about young love as two best friends fall in love with the same woman and experience new feelings and passions for the first time.
With a high school backdrop, “Dress The Part” is a rap adaptation of the play—and the end result of the Q Brothers’ experiment with turning Shakespeare’s work into a production featuring only two actors. The play was originally written to star the brothers, but the St. Louis production will be the first time the pair wear the director’s hat, allowing actors Jordan Moore (Proteus) and Garrett Young (Valentine) to shine on stage.
“The challenge is that you have to open up your mind to somebody performing something differently or bringing something new to a character that you have done hundreds of times a certain way,” JQ says. “But the advantage is that you’re not asking any cast members to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.”
Although the brothers have performed “Dress The Part” many times, St. Louis is their first performance in a club-like atmosphere instead of a theater, giving them the opportunity to remove the stereotype of being “well-behaved” in the theater and bring the production to life in a fresh setting—in this case, a high-energy concert venue in The Grove.
“This piece is about remembering what it’s like to be in high school and about how silly that world is and how important, at the time it feels—and how important it really is, because those things that happen to you in high school will shape who you are and how you move through the world forever,” JQ says.
Brothers GQ and JQ are no strangers to both theater and film. GQ starred in the millennial cult classic film “Drumline” alongside rapper and actor Nick Cannon in 2002, and he and his younger brother, JQ, have been producing theatrical productions for more than a decade. Both brothers describe being able to work and create with one another as their greatest blessing.
“This is the biggest blessing of my entire life. I can’t express my gratitude enough in terms of how blessed I feel to make a living not only working with my brother but playing with my brother,” GQ says. “We loved playing together growing up so much, and because of the possibility of a life in the arts, we’ve found a way to get paid to continue to play together for the rest of our lives. It’s pretty indescribable.”
Gearing up for a two-week run in St. Louis, “Dress The Part” is 75 minutes of comedy, rhyme and theater all in one. In addition to a DJ set from St. Louis’ own Crim Dolla Cray (above), each night the performance will be preceded by green show entertainment featuring some of the city’s best talents including spoken word artist Corey Black, platinum-selling producer Jay E and DJ Nico Marie. Audience members should come prepared to party and laugh.
“If you love Shakespeare, you’re going to love it,” JQ says. “If you love hip-hop, you’re going to love it. If you don’t love Shakespeare or hip-hop, you are still going to love it!”
“Dress The Part” opens on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 8 p.m. with a special Wednesday night “pay what you can” performance. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.
Images courtesy of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis.