'Romeo & Juliet' more than tale of 'star-crossed lovers'

By Jennifer Holloway - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Fri., Apr. 22, 2011
Amanda Marschall, as Juliet, and Logan Lopez, as Romeo, rehearse for the upcoming Valley Rep. production. Photo by Jennifer Holloway.
Amanda Marschall, as Juliet, and Logan Lopez, as Romeo, rehearse for the upcoming Valley Rep. production. Photo by Jennifer Holloway.

When people think of "Romeo and Juliet," they often remember the tag: a tale of "star-crossed lovers." Many think of love and tragedy. For those who studied it in high school, fear may even come to mind. For Valley Repertory Company Director and Executive Producer Jeffrey Flood, the famous play is much more.

“It’s a story about people who live in a violent world their parents created that they don’t accept but can’t control,” he said. The teens fall in love, but have no one to turn to because their families are mortal enemies, Jeffrey continued. “I think a lot about the idea that each generation inherits a world they didn’t create,” he said. He feels the situation Romeo and Juliet found themselves in is certainly relevant today, and because of this, the Valley Repertory Company of Enfield will present the tale in its original text, but in a contemporary setting.

For Amanda Marschall, who plays Juliet, the play is not only a story of love, but also of hate. Because the Montagues and Capulets live at odds, she and Romeo, played by Logan Lopez, have to act out a vast range of emotions.

“It’s a great challenge, but a scary one,” Marschall said. “[Juliet] goes from being in love to being devastated in one scene.”

“I’m all over the place emotionally,” Logan added, agreeing that portraying such an emotional reach is tough. Commenting on the climax of the play, Lopez said finding suicidal thoughts is difficult and scary. “In rehearsals you don’t want to, but you build to accepting those have to come.”

Emotions aside, Lopez finds identifying with Romeo’s youth more difficult. He notices himself concentrating to go to a place where freedom of thought causes the youthful reactions Romeo executes.

Janine Flood, the show's producer, said they were originally trying to cast as young as possible, but found the complex roles needed to be played by more mature actors.

“They’ve done a miraculous job of portraying the impulsiveness of youth,” Flood said.

Besides the modern-day setting, one other major change has been made to the centuries-old work. The role of Mercutio, Romeo’s best friend, will be played by a female, Emily Engel.

“There aren’t many good female roles in Shakespeare,” Flood said, referring to one aspect of the decision to cast a woman.

"Romeo and Juliet" will be performed at 100 High St. in Enfield, on May 6-7, 13-14 and 20-21, at 8 p.m. For ticket information, call 860-749-4665 or visit www.valleyrep.com.

For those who may shy away from the daunting, 400-year-old language, audience be assured: “It’s written as a theatrical piece to be performed, not to be studied in a classroom,” Jeffrey said.


Contact Jennifer Holloway with comments and story ideas at jholloway@remindernet.com

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