Romeo & Juliet
August 10-18, 2018
Directed by Beth Sanford
Adapted by Jenny Meisinger
Music by Hunter Martin
In collaboration with Historic St. Mary's City
Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and are held outdoors at Historic St. Mary's City by the State House.
“Wherefore Art Thou Romeo?”
Shakespeare’s Timeless Romantic Tragedy Comes to Historic St. Mary’s City By Monica Meinert - NTP Staff Writer
Thespians and high school freshman the world over can recount the tale with ease: two feuding families with an ancient grudge between them, two teenage lovers who meet by chance at a masked ball, and a double suicide that rocks the entire town of “fair Verona.”
The play is William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” which opens this Friday at Historic St. Mary's City. It’s the sixth production to be performed on the Old Statehouse lawn as part of a partnership between the museum and The Newtowne Players aimed at bringing outdoor Shakespearean drama to residents of St. Mary’s County.
“Every year, that partnership becomes stronger and stronger and it’s something members of the community have come to look forward to,” says director Beth Sanford. “People are excited about what we are doing here.”
This summer, Sanford assembled a cast of talented local performers to bring this timeless tragedy to the stage. To do so, she started by reaching out to the local high schools. “I knew I wanted to cast those title roles as close to the actual ages Shakespeare intended,” Sanford explains. “Juliet is said to be just shy of 14, and Romeo not much older. It would then make sense that their friends would be about the same age as well.” She proudly adds that students from all three local public high schools — Chopticon, Great Mills and Leonardtown — participated in the production.
Leading the cast in the title roles are Colin Maher and Breanna Lemerise, who successfully tackle the heavy drama and Elizabethan dialogue. Lemerise notes that the for her, the biggest challenge of the show was learning to speak the language of the bard. “Shakespeare wrote so beautifully, but it is hard to understand at first glance,” she says. “For weeks, I had to break down all of my lines, almost word for word, in order to make sure I could understand what was happening and so I could accurately portray what was going on inside Juliet's head.”
Sanford’s decision to pursue a young cast gives the whole production an air of unpretentious sincerity, and keeps the audience acutely aware at all times of the play’s profound truth: these are teenagers, who are being confronted with very adult problems.
At the outset of the play, Romeo — in typical teenage fashion — bemoans his troubles with his current love interest, Rosaline. “Romeo is a lovestruck and moody teenager, so bringing him to life seemed to come naturally,” jokes Maher.
All thoughts of Rosaline vanish, however, when Romeo and his entourage — including his faithful friend, Benvolio (played by Justin Bose) and the quick-witted Mercutio (Hannah Dickmyer) — disguise themselves and crash a party thrown at the home of Lord and Lady Capulet (Jeff Maher and Mikel Lauren Proulx). It is there that Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time and fall in love, despite the conflict that exists between their two families.
Aided by Friar Laurence (Noah Busby), the pair wed in secret. But no sooner have vows been exchanged than Romeo finds himself in the middle of a fatal confrontation between Mercutio and Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt (Jackie Horn), which sets in motion a chain of events that will ultimately lead to the young lovers’ demise.
The setting of the Old Statehouse lawn helps transport audiences back to bygone ages, with the building itself providing the perfect location for the famous “balcony scene.” The play’s swashbuckling sword fights are brought to life thanks to fight choreography by Russell Therrien, and the dance scenes feature choreography by Donna Bird. An original score composed by Hunter Martin (who also serves as music director for the production) complements the action on stage.
The production is produced by Aaron and Jenny Meisinger and stage managed by Kathryn Teague, with lights and sound by Tom McCarthy and Tommy Ray Chedester, props by Diane Trautman and costumes by Debbie Watson.
“‘Romeo and Juliet’ has romance and action, and it is even a little comedic at times,” says Lemerise, encouraging local audiences to brave the late summer heat and see the show, which runs through Aug. 18. “There are thrilling sword fights that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and we have a beautifully written, original score of music that pushes the story to be even more beautifully heartbreaking.”
This production runs Aug. 10-11 and Aug. 16-18 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults; $13 for NTP Members and Friends of HSMC; $12 for seniors, military, and students; $10 for children 6 – 11; children 5 and younger are free. There is special discount price of $10 for all tickets to the Thursday performance. I
Prince - Stephanie Taubert
Sampson - Mark Britas
Gregory - Jahniyah Sears
Abraham/Apothecary - Hailey Withrow
Balthazar - Grady Heveron
Benvolio - Justin Bose
Tybalt - Jackie Horn
Lord Capulet - Jeff Maher
Lady Capulet - Mikel Lauren Proulx
Lord Montague - Brandon Nichalson
Lady Montague - Vickie Powalisz
Romeo - Colin Maher
Paris - Rick Brown
Mariah the Capulet Servant - Tabitha Spell
Nurse - Sharol Buck
Peter - Everett Grube
Juliet - Breanna Lemerise
Mercutio - Hannah Dickmyer
Friar Laurence - Noah Busby
Friar John - John Giusti
Paris' page - Tabitha Spell
Watchman - Connor Heveron
Director: Beth Sanford
Producer: Jenny Meisinger
Stage Manager: Kathryn Teague