Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Romeo& Juliet"

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entire contents copyright 1997 by Larry Stark


"Romeo & Juliet"

by William Shakespeare
Directed by Russell Treyz

Set Design by Jason Sean Hettel
Lighting Design by John Ambersone
Costume Design by Nancy Leary
Fight Director Rick Sordelet
Stage Manager Janet Howes

Romeo..............................Adrian Witzke
Juliet............................Suzanne O'Donnell
Nurse...................................Mary E. Baird
Mercutio.......................................Tom Orr
Tybalt......................................Derek Lucci
Lord Capulet.....................Rainard Rachele
Lady Capulet..............................Elen Fiske
Lord Montague........................Scott Kealey
Lady Montague.........................Beth Gotha
Friar Lawrence.........................Tad Ingram
Benvolio...............................Ray Campbell
Escalus, Prince of Verona........Miles Herter
Paris........................................Marc Carver
Peter................................Alexander Haring
Friar John......................Matthew T. Amoru
Apothecary of Mantua..........James Kennedy
Abraham.........................Aaron Crutchfield
Balthasar...............................Tristan Jeffers
Gregory.....................................Laura Cook
Paris' Page..................Brian Emery Davison
Residents of Verona..........Michael Buckley,
Shaelagh Downs, Darcy Fowler, Kristin Wishoski


At the North Shore Music Theatre, Romeo & Juliet are teen-agers --- impetuous, impulsive, impudent, and impertinent --- and so suddenly smitten that their emotions, actions, and speeches tumble over one another in a mad rush of youth over every obstacle toward their union --- ultimately, unexpectedly, in death. They are in other words, exactly as Shakespeare wrote them to be.

Director Russell Treyz has mounted a brisk, brash production emphasizing laughs to the point that Mary E. Baird playing Juliet's old nurse ought to get third billing under the principals. In his hands Suzanne O'Donnell and Adrian Witzke are just as petulently willful as the spoiled darlings of two rich and powerful families would be, and only the fact that they've hated and fought one another for generations gets in their way .

For Treyz Tom Orr as mad Mercutio dies almost of the mere sight of his own stage-blood, as swiftly accepting of this mortal accident as any adolescent quipster. Before he dies, though, he and Derek Lucci as Tybalt get to display some believable rapier- fencing staged by Rick Sordelet --- and after he dies, Tybalt and Romeo continue the fight till disarmed, whereupon the enraged Romeo revenges his jester-friend's death with several shocking dagger-stabs, as though a playground duel were suddenly played for keeps.

The parents these youngsters rebel against are, until the tragic love of their children, dogmatically resigned to their generations of enmity. Rainard Rachele as Juliet's dad demands his darling marry the man he chooses, while Ellen Fiske as her mom wishes Tybalt's "murderer" dead because he bears the name Montague. Scott Kealey and Beth Gotha as the Montagues are likewise incapable of halting the feud they have grown up with. Even over the bodies of their suicidal children, the immediate reaction of these heads of households is to strangle one another. No wonder their kids ended badly.

They do so despite the kindly ministries of Tad Ingram's bubbly Friar Lawrence --- who marries the pair in secret, plots a fake death by sleeping-potion to keep Juliet from the marriage forced on her by her father, and then sees the pair kill themselves when finding, or thinking, the other has died. His ebullient dissertations on the medicines in plants and meddlesome attempts at a happy ending only lead, eventually, to sadness.

Throughout this boisterous tale of star-crossed love, two characters step in from time to time to explain what's going on. Ray Campbell as Romeo's pal Benvolio is continually left to explain events to the police of Verona after the participants are either dead or fled, while Miles Herter as the Prince of Verona, along with decrees, acts as prolog and epilog. His is the task of trying to provide civilizing rules which the feud continually upsets.

On designer Jason Sean Hettel's multilevel set, Russell Treyz takes believable liberties with physical reality. Romeo climbs the outside of a rose-hung spiral-staircase that represents a garden's wall with monolithic sincerity. Two scenes, one with Juliet the other with Romeo, have been intercut at two sides of the circular stage to increase the pace of action that these expository speeches describe. A doorway into the supposedly dead Juliet's tomb makes everyone before it unaware that no wall separates them from her undead corpse. And yet the magic of the stage, the magic of Shakespeare, makes invisible walls believable.

This production was concocted for a high school audience, and the quick, physically active pace is an excellent introduction to the eternal youth of this play, without compromising the regrettable tragedy that comes from being --- as young people always are --- impetuous and impulsive. Yet it is a production in which older audiences may see this old story with fresh eyes.

Love,
===Anon.


at

NORTH SHORE MUSIC THEATRE
62 Dunham Road, BEVERLY
till 9 May
1(617)922-8500
Check their web site



THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide
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