(LENOX, Mass.) – Romeo and Juliet, one of the greatest and most influential love stories of all time, and perhaps William Shakespeare’s most popular play, is being given an updated, innovative treatment in a new production directed by Daniela Varon at Shakespeare & Company’s Founders’ Theatre now through September 3.
Generations never tire of the story of two families, the Montagues and the Capulets, embroiled in an ancient feud, the origin of which was forgotten generations ago. Young lovers find inspiration as well as tragedy in the story of two teenage children who meet at a masked ball and fall in love, in spite of their families’ hatred for each other. Romeo and Juliet see the world, and each other, with fresh eyes and open hearts, and remind us to do so, too.
Directed by Shakespeare & Company veteran Daniela Varon (director of such box office hits as Sea Marks, Martha Mitchell Calling, The Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing, Wit, and many others), Romeo and Juliet features Company actor Susannah Millonzi (King John, As You Like It) as Juliet and newcomer David Gelles (Graceland at Lincoln Center Theater) as Romeo. The performance mixes original music, inventive scenic design, heart-stopping swordfights, and elegant dance to breathe new life into this classic work.
In an effort to free the play from traditional associations, this production of Romeo and Juliet will involve monochromatic costumes, and employ a careful selection of props and scenery. “With everyone dressed in white, there is no color coding to visually distinguish who is Capulet and who is Montague,” says costume designer Kiki Smith. “This will be an interesting challenge for the audience, who might need to listen and watch carefully to differentiate the characters from each family.”
“We wanted to create a set that would help detach audience members from their associations with Romeo and Juliet,” says set designer Sandra Goldmark, “so we crafted a scenic design that would allow them to interact, breathe, and feel directly alongside these two young people in love. For the downstage area, we’re using a very straightforward aesthetic influenced by the simplicity of Shaker design. With very few objects and no ornament, it’s just the actors and the text on that part of the stage. For the upstage world, we’re creating a kind of shadowbox (inspired by the American artist and sculpture Joseph Cornell) filled with objects, ideas, dreams, memories and references drawn from the play and our collective associations with Romeo and Juliet.”
Shakespeare & Company’s last Mainstage production of Romeo and Juliet was in 1999 at its former home, The Mount. Romeo and Juliet runs through September 3 in Shakespeare & Company’s Founders’ Theatre.
Box Office: 413. 637.3353