Try it again: Romeo and Juliet never gets old

Shakespeare’s most famous romantic tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, is getting a new jolt of electricity from the Live Arts LATTE troupe.
LATTE is the “youthful” arm of Live Arts, offering productions that feature mostly teenaged actors. The company does not shy away from difficult pieces, however. Last season included the Greek classic Antigone, re-imagined for the experimental LAB space by director Clinton Johnston.
Four hundred years after its inception, local director Amanda McRaven, who recently spent several months touring with the Staunton-based Shenandoah Shakespeare, challenges her cast to tell Shakespeare’s story with clarity, enthusiasm, and as if the audience did not know the fatal outcome.
“As a company, the Romeo and Juliet cast will learn how to put this story into their mouths, their bodies, their guts–not just their heads,” McRaven claims. Her vision for the production includes music, dancing, and swordplay.
Just in case you’ve forgotten: The play opens with a street brawl between two feuding houses, the Capulets and the Montagues. Quickly, Romeo Montague is introduced as a brooding pacifist who, on a dare from his best friend, crashes the annual Capulet bash where he sees the young lady of the house, Juliet, and falls immediately in love.
She reciprocates his desire, and they secretly wed. The strife between the two houses escalates to bloodshed in the streets, and Romeo is ultimately exiled for killing Juliet’s cousin Tybalt. Confusing messages, missed meetings, and youthful passion result in tragedy for the young couple, of course.
The themes of Romeo and Juliet– impossible love, tyrannical parents, and unreliable communication– have kept audiences on the edge of their seats for generations. This lively young cast infuses Shakespeare’s words with renewed vitality.
“McRaven’s focus on innovative physicality creates a strong ensemble and beautiful stage pictures,” says Jennifer Peart, education director at Live Arts.
Even though you have undoubtedly seen it before, this one by the Bard is worth a second or, perhaps, third viewing. See it all again through McRaven’s artistic eyes. You may find something new and memorable.

Romeo and Juliet opens Thursday, November 7 and runs through Saturday, November 23, at the LAB space at Live Arts, 609 E. Market St. Early Bird shows at 7pm on Thursdays. Other shows at 8pm on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and at 2pm for the Sunday matinee. $5 on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sunday; $7 on Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are available only at the door. 977-4177 x 100.

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