Shakespeare in the Dark takes R&J in new direction

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November 28, 2006

11:42 PM

Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet” is taking on a new dimension this weekend with the student production group, Shakespeare in the Dark. The show will open Dec.1 at 8 p.m. in the University Center Commonwealth Auditorium.

p. The play is the fall show for Shakespeare in the Dark, and is being directed by senior Callie Morris, the club’s vice president. “I knew I wanted to direct,” Morris said. “I wanted to bring out emotions that are not usually seen in ‘Romeo & Juliet.’”

p. This version of Shakespeare’s play is set in Verona, Italy in 1944, playing off the tensions of World War II. Romeo, played by junior Peter O’Shanick, comes from the Montague family, which backs the Italian Resistance Movement. Juliet, played by sophomore Abigail Fine, comes from the Capulet family, who are Nazi sympathizers. True to the original Shakespeare, these two characters fall in love without regard for their feuding families or their disagreements.

p. The show contains other large plot twists. For example, Tybalt has been taken on as a female role. “I’ve made Tybalt female, creating a sexual tension between her and Mercutio, which has been very effective,” Morris said. “It creates a counter point to Romeo and Juliet.”

p. Tybalt is a Capulet who loathes even the thought of the Montagues, while Mercutio is a close friend of Romeo’s. The two cross paths numerous times throughout the show.

p. Most of the play’s action occurs during the multiple combat scenes — all choreographed by sophomore Mike Johnson, who is also the assistant director.

p. “All the fight scenes I ever see now are bad — even Broadway shows,” Johnson said. “I volunteered to choreograph the combat scenes [after learning how in high school]. I am trying to so something that looks cool.”

p. The show includes multiple fighting scenes in which many characters are involved, adding to the play’s ever-building tension.

p. “This is a really timeless story,” O’Shanick said. “But we tried to make it even more accessible. We wanted to bring it into a time period even more people could relate to.”

p. Morris said she wanted to concentrate on the importance of emotion in her show. “Ultimately … this play is about all emotions,” Morris said. “Not just the good ones. I didn’t want to focus on just the love between Romeo and Juliet; there are so many other passions just as powerful in the script.”

p. The show’s actors said that the emotions were sometimes difficult to grasp.

p. “There would be the occasional time when it was hard to get a hold of a certain emotion, but then a personal experience would come to mind,” O’Shanick said. “There is a lot to get a hold of. I am only 20. I don’t have the same experience as some people.”

p. The play will be performed Dec. 2 and 3 at 1 p.m. and Dec. 4 and 5 at 8 p.m. in the UC Commonwealth. Admission is $4 and tickets can be purchased at the door.

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