A Civil War-Styled ROMEO & JULIET Opens This Friday at 8pm

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on March 8, 2013

My bespectacled and braced gentleman with the beautiful and gracious wife generously donated the authentic Civil War-era uniforms for our first Sesquicentennial production, the musical The Civil War, following a conversation we had where I explained that, after the cost of two rentals, we would have paid enough to own them ourselves. Since we were planning to use them for The Civil War and The Red Badge of Courage and will use them for Ambrose Bierce’s Civil War Stories (“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” “Chickamauga” and “Killed at Resaca”) as well as for Romeo & Juliet, the uniforms have more than paid for themselves.

In the past, I’ve been critical of those who present The Bard in anything other than high Elizabethan or, now my favored choice, modern dress. We have tried on numerous occasions to recreate on our little “Wooden O” a look-alike, pseudo-Shakespearean production. Whether we have succeeded or failed will be left for posterity to decide.

But I have found that to follow The Bard’s advice, focusing on the “words, words, words” and letting go of the trappings, makes for a clearer and a more easily followed plotline.

Mr. Gelb, director of The Metropolitan Opera, has tried to engage a newer audience by placing such iconic operas as A Masked Ball during the American Depression and setting Rigoletto in 1960s Las Vegas. It’s the “music, music, music,” not the trappings.

To clarify the deep grudge between the Capulets and the Montagues, I could have made them the Hatfields and the McCoys or the Sharks and the Jets, ala West Side Story. But since good sense and the aforementioned generosity prevailed, the Capulets will be in the best Union attire, while the Montagues will be Confederates to the end.

Leslie Greene has been the apotheosis of a repertory actress, juggling roles, life and lines while performing in The Vagina Monologues by night, playing the evil Miss Rottenmeier in Heidi by day, both rehearsing and performing Always…Patsy Cline, and now double-cast as Lady Montague and the Nurse in Romeo & Juliet.

Yet, amid all of that wildly-structured chaos, we have started the sets for Peter Pan. All of this happens on a 20’ x 25’ space, wingless with jerry-rigged flies. And speaking of Peter Pan, we are creating Neverland with men’s ties; so if anyone has out-of-style or outdated neckties, we would be grateful to have them for the set.

Tonight and tomorrow at 8pm, Matt Casey, Hannah Church, Josh Bernaski, Ryan Bowie, Ashton Crosby, Leslie Greene, Ted Jones, Colin Ryan, Michael Spaziani, Kendall Anne Thompson and Phil Whittinghill will tread the boards, and those who cherish The Bard will have more than a chance to hear the voice of love, see the power of action, and relive and relate to the bliss and the bittersweet heartbreak of first love. Romeo & Juliet plays three final public performances next Friday at 8pm and next Saturday at 2pm and 8pm. All tickets are $10.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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