Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ to visit WX, Layton
BY JENNIFFER WARDELL
Clipper Staff Writer
Tragic love stories are far older than teen vampires.
The Utah Shakespearean Festival is re-invigorating one of the classics with its touring production of “Romeo and Juliet,” coming to Woods Cross April 15 and Layton April 19. Though the tour focuses on student productions, a free evening production in Layton on April 19 will be open to all ages.
“We’ve had people from as far away as Logan and Brigham City travel to attend the evening play,” said Gayle Stucki, who has been instrumental in bringing the tour to Layton for the last several years. “People bring their children and grandchildren.”
The Shakespeare-in-the-Schools production trims “Romeo and Juliet” down to 75 minutes with the goal of making it more accessible to audience members of all ages. The show is also brought forward into today’s time.
“They moderned everything up to relate to the kids,” said Woods Cross High drama teacher Janet Cook, who helped bring the play to Woods Cross for the second year.
The entire goal of the production is to find that connection with teens and other audience members who might not be as familiar with more traditional Shakespearean productions.
“There’s a communal impact and vitality that one gleans by attending live theatre,” said Brian Vaughn, co-artistic director of the Utah Shakespearean Festival. “Through these plays we usher in the next generation of playgoers that will keep our craft vital and alive.”
Director John Maclay said that he paid special attention to emphasizing the elements of the story that could best reach kids today.
“His language is truthful and the relationships in his plays are truthful,” he said. “Given the parameters of the world of the play, people are willing to suspend their disbelief when they believe in the story being told, and I believe in Romeo and Juliet.”
The show also uses stylistic elements such as color-coding to help make the play easier to follow. Costume Designer Christine Leinicke dresses the Montagues (Romeo’s family) in teal, the Capulets (Juliet’s family) in gold, and all neutral parties in white.
After the play, students will be able to participate in a 15-minute question-and-answer session with the performers. The actors, all professionals who have appeared in previous festival shows, will also hold workshops with theater students at both schools.
“They’ll be fun,” said Cook. “We’re really looking forward to them.”
The public production, set for April 19 at 7 p.m. at the Layton High School Theater, is unusual for the tour. It’s sponsored in part by the Great Globe Foundation and the law firm of Stucki, Steele and Rencher. The evening production will also include a discussion with the actors.
“It lets audience members learn about the artists in a very real way,” said Stucki.
Even without the discussion, organizers agree that the production gives audience members a valuable opportunity.
“Your kids may not get another chance to see professional actors doing Shakespeare,” said Cook. “It’s a great experience.”