Those who didn’t go missed a good show. The modern dress costuming worked well enough, with the sword fights translated into believable knife fights by Fight Choreographer Christopher Elst. Director Mary Beth Toph and Costumer Patricia Kies had a very clever idea to do the Capulets’ ball scene as a genuine costume ball, which added color. The particularly good idea was to have both the Capulets and Romeo affect Renaissance garb for the party, so, for this scene and the ones that logically followed, such as the “balcony scene”, Romeo and Juliet were in “traditional” costumes. Other modern touches, such as the crime scene tape put around the bodies of Tybalt and Mercutio, were well received by the audience. Some involved with the production thought that the background of rustic stonework didn’t go with the updating, but, as I think we will find from the Julian Ffellows movie just released, lots of modern-day Verona probably still looks like that--.
I thought the cast was very strong. Michael Haubner as Romeo and Gabriella Smurawa as Juliet carried off the critical roles very well. The only criticism I heard was that Romeo might have shown a bit more passion in the scene where Benvolio tells him of Juliet’s supposed death, but overall I have nothing but praise for their performances.
Important supporting roles were also well cast, with great work by Nick Haubner as Tybalt, Jake Andrejat as Mercutio, Jerry Krajewski as Benvolio, Eric Madsen as Friar Lawrence, and “Goo” as Juliet’s Nurse. Michelle White was very effective and striking in the role of Lady Capulet, and Jennifer Gaul had a nice double turn in the roles of Lady Montague and a slightly stoned Apothecary.
In a lot of ways, this production was a particular pleasure for me, since I got to work with some old comrades, Bill Kaiser (Montague), whom I shared the stage with years ago in “Fiddler on the Roof,” and “South Pacific,” and Joseph Weber (Prince), who was Tranio when I played Gremio in “The Taming of the Shrew.” It was good to work with the impressively talented young actors mentioned above, and to help pave the way for a yet younger generation, Lia Krystowiak and Bria Sullivan (Chorus) and James Sullivan (John the messenger) who showed great promise of things to come.
As with every production I’ve been in, I was glad to begin it, glad to see it to fruition, and now, glad that’s over so that I can go back to the rest of my life with a good memory of it.
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