LU Theater Department puts on the timeless classic of ‘Romeo and Juliet’

Dashing sword fights, swoon-worthy confessions of love and family feuds all wrapped up in a heart-wrenching tragedy — William Shakespeare’s classic “Romeo and Juliet” has it all. The renowned love returns to Liberty’s stage with two weeks of performances.

 The play depicts the deep-rooted conflict between the Montague and Capulet families and the tragedy that faces Romeo and Juliet, two star-crossed lovers caught in the fray of their feuding bloodlines. With Shakespeare’s language and the intense stage combat, Liberty put on a captivating show.

Seth Somers played the starring role of Romeo, and Elise Young played the leading lady of Juliet. Both students are currently in the acting BFA program. The show also featured other actors that included Jordan Prather, who starred as Juliet’s nurse, and Josh Thomas, who played Paris, the man who Juliet’s family arranges for her to marry.

“One of my favorite aspects about playing Paris in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ has been the fact that I am playing a character who has been in literature longer than any of the characters I’ve ever and probably will ever get to play,” Thomas said. “And even though he’s not a main character, the level of depth and beautiful detail that can be found in him is incredible. Shakespeare, once again, knew what he was doing.”

Kaley Hutter, the director’s apprentice, witnessed firsthand the director’s responsibilities. She worked under the play’s director, Andy Geffken, and helped direct the understudies. The understudy performance will be March 4 at 2 p.m.

Hutter gained an abundance of knowledge through the eyes of being Geffken’s apprentice.

“He is just a bounty of articulation when it comes to Shakespeare, and so I love learning from him in that way and gaining the tools that are in his toolbox,” Hutter said.

The cast was required to come to the first rehearsal with the script memorized. There has been a lot of research into historical and literary commentaries of the play, according to Thomas. 

“Romeo and Juliet” is a widely- known play, but there are still some hidden secrets among the text.

“I fully misjudged the script before I actually began to analyze it as a director and realiz(ed) it’s not a story about two dumb teenagers,” Hutter said. “It’s two people who are looking for something real … at the end, they feel they’ve been driven to no other option.”

Thomas reflected on his relatability regarding playing Paris. 

“Like Paris, I’m a man in my twenties, and I find myself also having romantic ideals in the way I see the world. Other than that, Paris and I are very different,” Thomas said. “He is a man of high nobility in the 15th century and has to suffer the loss of a cousin and his wife to-be. Spoiler alert.”

The cast attained a new level of speech application, especially in terms of diction. Hutter explained how the use of the core was crucial in speaking Shakespearean language. It is important to highlight breath support and using correct articulators, according to Hutter. 

“Another thing we talk about is how the two components of something being compelling is clarity and conviction,” Hutter said. “Something can’t be compelling unless you have both of those things.”

After just five weeks of rehearsal, the cast has performed six shows for the Lynchburg community. 

“I love Shakespeare. I love the script, and I love the way we do it,” Hutter said. 

“Romeo and Juliet” will be showing in the Tower Theater March 1-5 at varying times. For more information, visit their website.

Lunt is the digital media producer for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on Twitter

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