Thursday, July 31, 2014

Star-crossed lovers take stage

Wherefore art thou, Romeo? — Shows are currently underway for Liberty’s production of Romeo and Juliet. This is the first Shakespeare play the theatre department has put on since the opening of the new Tower Theater. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

Liberty Theatre brings to stage Shakespeare’s well-known classic

Seats filled quickly and the show began as director Neal Brasher recited the first lines of Shakespeare’s well-known romantic tragedy. Liberty University’s Department of Theatre Arts saw a full crowd, Dec. 2, for the opening night of the Tower theater’s final production of the semester, Romeo and Juliet.

“Immediately as the curtain rose, and I saw the set, it took my breath away,” Sophomore Michael Pigliavento said. “Following that, I was captivated the entire time.”

Pigliavento, who attends many of Liberty’s theatre shows, said that this one was unique from many of the department’s other presentations.

“This one was a classic and almost had that gothic tone throughout the entire show,” Pigliavento said. “I was so enthralled by the characters and the story.”

Not only is Romeo and Juliet the first Shakespeare play to be performed since the new Tower Theatre’s creation in the fall of 2010, but the show also boasted in the use of the largest set to be created for use in the new facility, according to Brasher.

As for the quality of acting, Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. said the actors’ performances were commanding.

“It was extremely well done. I never cease to be amazed by the talent of these kids and always enjoy it,” Falwell said. “We were so impressed with the actors and actresses’ talent.”

“I thought it went very well. I’m proud of the students and the hard work that they’ve put into it,” Brasher said. “I was just talking to the fight choreographer, Andy Greffken, about the progress the students have made just in the last week. They’ve worked hard for the entire five-week process, but just in the last week they’ve made great strides.”

Romeo and Juliet posed several new challenges for the students, including learning how to sword-fight and speak the Shakespearian dialect enough to make it conversational.

“The Shakespeare language is hard to grasp, but Mr. Brasher had a lot of experience and knew how to prepare us for the Shakespeare language,” senior Will Variato, who took on the role of Tibalt, said. “So we had a lot of preparation and a lot of practice to allow us to speak the Shakespeare language and connect with the audience.”

Even with the challenges, junior Andrew Parfitt, who played Romeo, said that the plot was understood.

“I think that the audience reacted (to the Shakespearian language) a lot better than I expected them to. They were laughing at all of the jokes that we half expected would go over their heads,” Parfitt said. “It was my first Shakespeare as well, but the directors were very proficient in helping me out and being there for me.”

The show offered variety to the Tower stage.

“We do lots of other shows that are great, we have musicals and more contemporary comedies, but it’s great to include classical literature in the season at Liberty,” Brasher said. “Looking back on the works that most influenced our culture is a very good thing for any college, especially Liberty, to do. Shakespeare, after all, is quoted more than any other writer outside of the Bible in the English language.”

Show times for Romeo and Juliet are Dec. 8-9 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. For more information about the Liberty Department of Theatre Arts and their upcoming shows, visit liberty.edu/theatre.

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