Shakespeare comes to Miller Performing Arts Center

Dorea Slagle, left, and Joe Schneider are Juliet & Romeo in the Little Theater’s production of Romeo & Juliet.

Dorea Slagle, left, and Joe Schneider are Juliet & Romeo in the Little Theater’s production of Romeo & Juliet. Photo by Shaun Zimmerman.

Shakespeare is alive, well and coming to Miller Performing Arts Center.

The Little Theatre of Jefferson City is presenting “Romeo and Juliet” directed by Laramie Thompson as their spring show.

“We are using the abridged version of the play, but none of the dialogue that effects character development or plot has been taken out,” Tompson said.

Thompson, who taught Shakespeare at JCHS to ninth graders for approximately 29 years is very familiar with all of the difficulties and challenges in doing the dialect and physical movements.

She had help from Justin Bates, who is the fencing coach and choreographer. He taught nine actors to fence using real swords minus the pointed ends. Thompson said this has made the fencing scenes very realistic and a little scary.

The cast ranges in age from eighth grade through adults. Thompson said repetition in rehearsal has made them comfortable with the dialect and the cadence of the lines.

“It was like going to a foreign county and emersing yourself in the language to learn,” said Thompson.

Thompson said she is using one set with a cyclorama as background to help with color for lighting, done by AJ Lutz. The set does have the traditional balcony and it is a challenge in that the ceiling at the TLT rehearsal hall is too low to erect the balcony. The first time the cast will have access to it is at technical rehearsal on the Sunday before the show.

Technically the costumes have been the greatest challenge. Most are rented but there are characters who play more than one part and three ladies are accepting the challenge of constructing those costumes. Shae Marie Eickhoff, Jenifer Burlis-Frelich and Renee Barnes are using drapes, curtains, table cloths and donated fabric to make costumes. Donna Otto is also helping.

Thompson said that her production manager, Amy Prenger, is such a big help. She has taken many responsibilities and made things work.

Becca Seabaugh, a TLT veteran director and actor, is serving as assistant director.

When asked how she was handling all of the challenges of a Shakespeare play, Thompson said everyone was so nice and easy to work with and willing to do whatever was needed to make the show a success that it made her job much easier.

The show has a large cast (25) and crew (approximately 30) but with everyone working toward a common goal it has worked well.

One name that veteran TLT audiences will remember is EC Walker. He is back in Jefferson City and Thompson said he asked if he could audition for a small part. He was cast as Lord Montague and has enjoyed getting his feet wet again in local theater.

“It has been such a joy to have actors who deliver the lines that create the characters and I love what they are doing. I hope the audiences will appreciate the efforts by cast and crew,” Thompson said.

At a Glance

What: “Romeo and Juliet” by Little Theatre of Jefferson City

When: April 18-20, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Miller Performing Arts Center.

Tickets: Box office at Miller from April 15 through April 20 from 5-7 p.m. Info number is (573) 681-9400.

Website: www.tltjc.org

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