Lantern Theater Company is set to present William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet under the direction of the Lantern's Artistic Director Charles McMahon as part of its record-breaking 18th season. As a companion to the performances, the Lantern will reprise its popular Scholars: In Conversation series with Sex, Swords & Surprises in Shakespeare's Verona, which will allow audiences to delve deeper into the play and explore its modern-day relevance.
About the show: "Lantern's Romeo and Juliet comes to the stage a play beloved all over the world for the tragic romance of its star-crossed lovers. But it is the story, too, of an enduring feud between the Capulet and Montague families – a conflict grown so deadly that it throws an entire city into turmoil. The danger on the streets is palpable: armed enemies from both sides lurk around corners, while the Prince threatens death to anyone who is caught up in the clash. When Romeo and his Juliet rise above the old grudges, their love may heal the deep divisions in Verona...or bring the whole city crashing down."
Romeo and Juliet features up-and-comers Sean Lally and Nicole Erb in the title roles with a powerful supporting cast of Philadelphia's best actors, and fight choreography by award-winning fight director J. Alex Cordaro.
"These kids are on the verge of adulthood in an environment of conflict and violence, trying to imagine something better and project themselves into it," says Romeo and Juliet director McMahon. "Romeo and Juliet are looking for and open to that feeling of love that conquers all, and that's where they're investing themselves. Until Romeo kills Tybalt, this is a tragedy that has the ability to be a romantic comedy. Most people gloss over the play and see it as sad – actually, the play turns sad. We want to lean into this reversal and jolt the audience emotionally, which I think is what Shakespeare was trying to do."
Romeo and Juliet runs March 1 – April 1, 2011 (press opening: March 7, 7 p.m.). [A full performance schedule follows in the fact sheet below.] Tickets are $20 – $36 and are available online at lanterntheater.org or by calling the Lantern Box Office at (215) 829-0395. $10 student rush tickets are available 10 minutes before curtain with valid ID; cash only. Additional discounts are available for seniors and groups of 10 or more. Lantern Theater Company is located at St. Stephen's Theater, 10th & Ludlow Streets in Center City Philadelphia.
Eagerly anticipated by local school districts, Romeo and Juliet's advance ticket sales have already cemented it as the best-selling student matinee series in the company's 17-year history. Lantern Theater Company's production is part of Shakespeare for a New Generation, a nationwide initiative sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with Arts Midwest. This prestigious award is granted annually to a select list of professional theater companies across the country and has allowed the Lantern to expand its classroom program into 10 schools in Philadelphia and South Jersey.
On March 12, 19, and 26, the Lantern will present Scholars: In Conversation – Sex, Swords & Surprises in Shakespeare's Verona, a three-part discussion series presented in conjunction with Romeo and Juliet. These conversations will explore the play's striking modern-day relevance as experts in neuroscience, conflict theory, and literature join Lantern artists for conversations about teenagers, feuds, and plot twists.
During Romeo and Juliet, the Lantern will also expand its accessibility offerings with the debut of Open Captioning, presented with support from VSA Pennsylvania and Art-Reach. Open Captioning displays dialogue and other sounds on an LED screen located near the stage, and is helpful to the deaf and hard-of-hearing as well as people whose second language is English. Audiences attending the performance on Friday, March 16 at 8:00 p.m. can enjoy this new service at no additional charge.
Cast & Production Team
The love story begins through a chance encounter between Romeo and Juliet, played by young actors Sean Lally and Nicole Erb, both making their Lantern debuts. The young lovers meet when Romeo, his cousin Benvolio (Kevin Meehan in his Lantern debut) and his friend Mercutio (Charlie DelMarcelle, seen in last season's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Uncle Vanya) sneak into a feast hosted by the Capulets (Leonard C. Haas and K.O. DelMarcelle, recently paired as Victor and Sibyl in the Lantern's Private Lives). The trespass by the Montagues does not go unnoticed by Juliet's hotheaded cousin Tybalt, played by Jake Blouch (New Jerusalem, A Skull in Connemara).