Theater company puts fresh spin on ‘Romeo and Juliet’
GAINESVILLE, FL â€“ The Aquila Theatre Company will present William Shakespeareâ€™s “Romeo and Juliet” at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21 at the University of Florida’s Phillips Center. A pre-performance discussion with the company is scheduled for 6:45 p.m.
No Shakespearean work is more famous than “Romeo and Juliet.” Set in Verona, Italy, the classic tale follows Romeo, a Montague, and Juliet, a Capulet. As their two families are at war with one another, the two teenage lovers are destined to become â€śstar-crossed.â€ť Shakespeareâ€™s play contains plenty of action â€“ via its sword fight scenes and dramatic plot twists â€“ but, at heart, it is a love story.
In the 400 years since Shakespeare penned “Romeo and Juliet,” his main characters have attained a status in popular culture that rivals that of more modern-day icons. Songs such as “Fever,” Bob Dylanâ€™s “Desolation Row” and Madonnaâ€™s “Cherish” have made reference to the pair.
But how does one breathe new life into such an old story? For Aquila, the new life comes not from the story itself, but from the way the story is told.
Concentrating on what it calls the playâ€™s â€śessential truth,â€ť the highly talented British and American ensemble create a stylistic adaptation that focuses on the major themes of the story and brings the text to vivid life. The eloquent language of “Romeo and Juliet” articulates some of the most exquisite poetry ever written, and the flamboyant and often complex characters, such as Mercutio and the Nurse, provide some of the most expertly drawn personages in Shakespeare. Aquila brings these elements to the forefront in a production that is not only engaging and entertaining, but also, most importantly, accessible to modern audiences.
As an added twist, Aquilaâ€™s bold new production requires each actor in the ensemble to learn every role in “Romeo and Juliet.” Before each performance, the audience will help choose which actor plays which role. The inspiration for the unusual casting was Shakespeareâ€™s own company, where every actor played two or three roles in each play. By keeping the casting a surprise, there is an air of excitement and expectation as the audience sits down to watch “Romeo and Juliet.”
Tickets are available by calling the Phillips Center Box Office at (352) 392-ARTS (2787) or (800) 905-ARTS or by calling Ticketmaster at (904) 353-3309. Orders may be faxed to (352) 846-1562. Tickets are also available in person at the Phillips Center Box Office, University Box Office at the University of Florida Reitz Student Union and all Ticketmaster outlets; and on the Web at www.ticketmaster.com.
The Phillips Center Box Office is open from noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and two hours before performances.
- Amy E. Schafer, 352-392-1900, ext. 324