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Shasta College Theatre Presents: Romeo and Juliet

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Shasta College Theatre Presents: Romeo and Juliet

Written by Dominic Mallari

Nearly everyone knows the story of Romeo and Juliet. William Shakespeare’s famous tragedy has withstood the test of time, having been performed at several stages around the world and adapted into many films. The play itself has also inspired many works such as the musical West Side Story and Taylor Swift’s hit single, Love Story. Now the tale of the star-crossed lovers will be coming here to Redding, specifically, at the Shasta College Theater. The Shakespearean tragedy  is directed by Dean Munroe, with set design by David Fraser. Also notably involved in the show are Marie Dawson, the choreographer, Dr. Elizabeth Waterbury, the musical director,  Ken Hill, who choreographs the fight scenes, and Casey Cann, who coaches some of the acting, especially during the romantic scenes. In all, Romeo and Juliet consists of a cast of about fifteen, with over forty people involved in the production crew.

“I thought the audience would enjoy it, and it’s been a while since we’ve done a Shakespeare,” says Dean Munroe about choosing the fall play, “It’s kind of an interesting story that people are familiar with, so I thought it would be a good experience for the actors and production staff.”

Relating the story to history and the humanities Dean Munroe explains, “There were a lot of arranged marriages… A lot of times people lose that context in terms of what the story is about. Not only are young girls taken advantage of in society but that young people in a sense aren’t allowed to really mature and get to a point in their lives where they know who they are and what they want to be.”

“[Romeo and Juliet is] all about youth and the challenges youth face. Here’s a fourteen-year-old who has just going through all the changes in her life and it’s a period of time where young people are always trapped into romance and they’re captivated by it, but also they’re not equipped to handle it because they’re really not mature enough to be able to see through it.” He even pointed out that the challenges are what he enjoys the most about this show.

Playing the titicular protagonists are Blake Fisher (Romeo) and Samantha Comer (Juliet). Having graduated from Enterprise High School and Shasta High School, Blake and Sam, respectively, know what it is like to come from rival backgrounds. Yet these two talented actors have teamed up quite well during the past few months of rehearsals and are able to exhibit marvelous chemistry onstage.

“We’re friends and we’re funny together and we get along really well,” comments Sam about her acting experience with Blake, “We’ve talked about the whole kiss thing many times, and I get really embarrassed about it because I’ve never done that before onstage, but he’s really cool. He’s comforting about it, and it’s not a big deal.”

Although for both of them this is their first play, they have displayed their singing, acting, and dancing skills elsewhere in the past. If you saw Shasta College’s Summer Musical Leader of the Pack a few months ago, you may remember Blake for his portrayal of the musician Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich’s love interest. He has also performed in Enterprise’s award-winning show choir Starship and the Victorian Dinner.

“It’s fun,” Blake continues, “It’s kind of a growing role for me because I have always wanted to be on the stage, I’ve always wanted to do acting as a child. And doing this shows what it takes to memorize your lines and pull out different emotions to make people believe that you’re actually this character. It’s a wonderful cast with very good acting experience, and it is helping me to mature and grow every single rehearsal, and it gives me the experience to pull into new roles.”

To prepare for his part, Blake has researched how Romeo acted in his life so he can understand him better. “We’ve learned about it in school, we’ve seen some of its movies, yet you still have to make the role your own so you can become an individual compared to all the other generations of Shakespearean Romeo and Juliet… You kind of think of it as if you’re a teenage boy, you have everything in world, yet you feel as if you don’t want anything. In the romantic part, I’ve been really trying to think of my girlfriend, because in one of the scenes, he gets banished. Being alive and banished and not being able to see his love is worse than death. That is what he thinks. He is an overemotional teenager, and that’s how I think of this role.”

Sam Comer has also graced Shasta College’s stage as the Ladybug in the 2009 musical, James and the Giant Peach, as well as performing in Shasta High School’s Madrigal Dinner and Spring Musicals.

“I’ve never had to do anything serious like this,” she says about the play, “The most serious thing I did was Aida,” a musical in which she performed in the ensemble. “I really like how [Romeo and Juliet is] teaching me how to become the character in real life.” Throughout rehearsals, Sam has done much in depth character development, such as creating background stories and traits about Juliet to help her “become more one with the character.”

“I see [Juliet] as a strong, sort of tomboy kind of a girl,” she explains, “She likes to flirt with boys but she never takes them seriously until she meets Romeo, and she falls head over heels for him. So, those are just a few little character traits that the audience may be able to pick up on whenever they watch the play, but they won’t hear of me talking about it.”

When asked what the story meant to her, Sam replied, “It’s definitely a lesson of harboring hate for no reason. We never find out why the Montagues and the Capulets really hate each other. They just hate each other, and it ruins everything. Sometimes you need to lose something really special and precious to you in order to realize something really important.”

So what should we expect in the show? First of all, there’s brilliant drama, displays of blossoming romance, and thrilling sword fights. Furthermore, the sets and the costumes of the show feature geometric figures and abstract art. For instance, on the buildings, circles represent the Montague family and triangles symbolize the Capulet family, and costumes reflect a mix of traditional and contemporary styles of fashion. Also, if you’re familiar with the unabridged play, you would know that it runs more than three hours long. However, in this production, the script has been edited to be around two hours instead. “Today’s audiences are more action driven than language driven in terms of their attention,” Munroe explains, “so hopefully that will make it a more enjoyable experience.”

Romeo and Juliet runs at the Shasta College Theater October 17-19, 24-26 at 7:30 PM, along with a 2:00 PM matinee on October 20. Tickets cost $8.00 for the general public and $5.00 for students and seniors.

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