Sunday, October 24, 2004

Troupe tweaks 'Romeo & Juliet'



By Lauren Bishop
Enquirer staff writer

This version of Romeo & Juliet isn't by the book. Clear Stage Cincinnati's production of Shakespeare's classic play, which opened last weekend, is set in present-day Verona and uses current clothing (inspired by Italian designers Dolce & Gabbana and Versace), music (techno and house) and some modern scenery to tell the tragic tale.

IF YOU GO
What: Clear Stage Cincinnati's production of Romeo & Juliet
When: 8 p.m. Friday and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Jarson-Kaplan Theater, Aronoff Center for the Arts, 650 Walnut St., downtown
Tickets: $16 , $14 seniors, $12 students at (513) 621-2787 or www.cincinnatiarts.org
The production is also nonconventional in that it features two young women playing the traditionally male roles of Tybalt and the Prince, and Benvolio has a female understudy (Linzie Greiwe). Why? "Because of all the people that read for those parts, whether they were male or female, they were the ones that fit," says director Gina Cerimele-Mechley. "They had the fire that I was looking for, they had the look I was looking for."

As Clear Stage prepared for its second weekend of performances, we asked some of the cast and crew to share their favorite modern adaptations of Romeo & Juliet - and found a chorus of agreement.

• Melissa Bennett, 24, Monfort Heights (Tybalt/scenic designer and carpenter): "My favorite is Baz Luhrmann's version (1996's Romeo + Juliet) - I enjoy the clever ways he updated the movie while still being true to the script's language (e.g., "Sword" being the brand name of the guns used as weapons). "

• Kristin Clippard, 25, Colerain Township (the Prince/company manager): "As far as movies go, I would have to go with the Baz Luhrmann version, mostly because it puts it into such a fresh and modern context that it's so much easier for kids to understand it."

• Katie Horwitz, 17, Amberley Village (directing intern): "I enjoyed Baz Luhrmann's rendition not necessarily because of the acting, but because it gets teenagers interested in what Shakespeare's really about."

E-mail lbishop@enquirer.com




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