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Oh Brother! It’s a Comedy of Errors at The Old Globe when long-lost twins reunite

Glenn Howerton stars as Antipholus while Rory O’Malley plays Dromio in The Old Globe’s ‘The Comedy of Errors.’
Glenn Howerton stars as Antipholus while Rory O’Malley plays Dromio in The Old Globe’s ‘The Comedy of Errors.’
( / Jim Cox)

The Old Globe’s Summer Shakespeare Festival continues with the Aug. 16 opening of “The Comedy of Errors.” Scott Ellis directs the fabulous farce, which is Shakespeare’s shortest play, and written in 1594.

Two sets of identical twins that were accidentally separated at birth are about to embark on a zany adventure.

Antipholus of Syracuse (Glenn Howerton) and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse (Rory O’Malley) both have twin brothers they cannot find. As they travel to Ephesus, things become very strange because there dwell their twin brothers. When they’re seen in town, mistaken identities fuel disasters!

Actor, writer and producer Howerton (Antipholus of Ephesus / Antipholus of Syracuse), currently stars as Dennis Reynolds in the FXX comedy “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” which he co-created, writes and produces. He starred in FX’s Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning drama “Fargo,” appeared in Fox’s second season of “The Mindy Project,” many films, and the premiere of “The Credeaux Canvas” at Playwrights Horizons.

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“My background is theater, but I spent years in film and TV,” Howerton said. “I missed the stage and when I did a reading of ‘As You Like It,’ I was overwhelmed with being back on stage performing live — and more specifically — with Shakespeare. I auditioned for Scott Ellis right out of college. I wanted this role because Scott studied Shakespeare, but never directed it. He wasn’t bringing any preconceived notions about how Shakespeare should be played to the rehearsal process, so I knew it would be really fresh.”

O’Malley (Dromio of Ephesus / Dromio of Syracuse) received both Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations for Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon.” He also starred in Broadway’s “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” and several TV shows.

“I love this play, this part, and the chance to work with Scott Ellis again,” O’Malley said. “He’s an awesome director. When I graduated from Carnegie Mellon University, I auditioned for several plays at The Old Globe but never got any roles. I’m excited to finally be here. I enjoy Balboa Park and its gardens.”

The challenge for the actors is playing two different characters that look exactly alike.

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Howerton said, “What’s difficult is that I would love to create two distinctly different characters, but the entire play is predicated on everyone mistaking each brother for the other brother, so I have to make subtle choices that draw distinctions between them.”

O’Malley added, “I’ve played multiple roles before, but usually you have completely different costumes and looks to help create those characters. Here, it’s up to me to create a difference in these two men. Maybe they sound a little different, walk differently or have different relationships with their masters.”

Howerton and O’Malley agree they have a great chemistry together, but each has a different favorite scene in the show.

“Mine is the first scene where we meet Antipholus of Ephesus,” Howerton said. “He’s just been locked out of his house by his wife, who thinks he’s lying about who he is because his brother is inside having dinner with his family. It’s really funny.”

O’Malley offered, “My favorite is where I’m telling my master that the kitchen wench at this house where we just showed up says I’m betrothed to her. She’s chasing me, and I have no idea who she is. It gets to be really crazy.”

Both actors agree this production will appeal to a wide audience. Said Howerton, “As Shakespeare, it’s less complicated than a lot of his plays. It’s much more of a physical play. There’s not a lot of the flowery language. It’s great fun and silly.”

Said O’Malley, “It’s 90 minutes of nonstop laughs and a wonderful way to end a summer day — outdoors in a great theater.”