It's time for the world's most famous pair of teen lovers to take center stage at Eureka College. No, not the kids from Titanic. Instead, it's Romeo and Juliet, an early work by Shakespeare that invented the concept of star-crossed lovers.
In Shakespeare's tragedy, Juliet Capulet and Romeo Montague come from families that don't get along. At all. In fact, it's unthinkable for a Capulet to think she belongs with a Montague in 16th century Verona. It's swelteringly hot in the streets of Verona, passions and anger are running high, and our teen lovers do not want to be thwarted by stuffy oldsters or feuding cousins who think they know what's best. And Shakespeare doesn't pack any punches -- he has his narrator tell us right from the get-go that this story will end in death. When we get to the end, we hear that there "never was a story of more woe....Than this of Juliet and her Romeo."
Is it a tale of love that cannot be denied? Of how dangerous it is to ignore what your parents want for you? A cautionary tale about taking rash action or trying to defy fate or trying to keep love alive in a hostile world?
Whatever it is you think Shakespeare was trying to say with his Romeo and Juliet, it has proven to be one of his most popular plays. It's the one that the Victorians revived with a happy ending (as recreated in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby), the one that got a ballet from Prokofiev, the one that shows up in dozens of operas and pop songs, the one Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim turned into a modern musical gang war in West Side Story, the one Joe Calarco set in a boys' school in Shakespeare's R&J, the one Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann both put on film, and the one we see Will Shakespeare working on in Shakespeare in Love.
Lynch's cast includes Coleman Payne and Hattie Standridge as Romeo and Juliet, with Kristen Franz as Mercutio, Jake Geiger as Benvolio, Jason Punke and Veronica Kudulis as Romeo's dad and mom, Belle Grober as Tybalt, Anna Dabrowski as Juliet's nurse, Christopher Tam and Cathy Sutliff as Juliet's parents, Gretchen Schlossler as the friar, and Emmalie Dabrowski, Hannah Lane, Trevor McDaniel, Kirstin Meyers, Jessica Rogers, Ben Schultz and Emily Smith completing the ensemble.
Eureka's Romeo + Juliet begins at 7:30 pm on February 25, 26, 27 and 28 at Pritchard Theatre. Tickets are priced at $10 for general admission and $7 for students. For reservations, contact the box office at 309-467-6363, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to www.eureka.edu/events to pick a specific performance and purchase online.