'Romeo and Juliet' is final main stage performance in MC's Wilson Chapel

The Maryville College Theatre Department will present "Romeo and Juliet" March 8 to 11 in the theatre of the Wilson Chapel/Theatre complex on the College campus.

Recognized as William Shakespeare’s most famous love story, "Romeo and Juliet" is a play set amidst a family feud, a forbidden love and a pair of star-crossed lovers. Audiences will get the chance to discover, or rediscover, this timeless tale
and remember why it has become one of Shakespeare’s most popular pieces.

The performances will be the last main stage production in the college’s Wilson Chapel Theatre prior to the reconstruction of the new Civic Arts Center. For that reason, Dr. Heather McMahon, assistant professor of theatre and director of the production, wanted to choose a play that is considered a "classic."

"I wanted to make sure that anyone who has a connection to this theatre would feel welcome for the final performance, so I chose a play that seems to have universal appeal," McMahon said. "This play has stood the test of time. We consider the themes universal, the language beautiful and the characters timeless. So I thought this play would fit the occasion."

Performances will stay true to the original Shakespearean language and text but feature a futuristic setting for the characters. "I have maintained Shakespeare’s words and hope that his poetry will come alive for audience members who are not yet familiar with his writing," McMahon said.

The futuristic treatment of the setting and costumes is intended to help modern audiences connect with the "timeless nature of the conflict."

"We haven’t determined exactly how far in the future our setting is, only that technology has failed and humans are again living with duels, banishments, and apothecaries," McMahon said. "So we are calling the time period the ‘post-apocalyptic future.’"

The set, designed by associate professor of art, Dr. Carl Gombert, is that of a "parking garage."

"We knew that the setting had to be a "neutral" space to allow for [scene] transformations," McMahon said. "With that in mind, Carl designed something that resembles a parking garage. We thought that in the future, these would be spaces that would stand the ‘test of time,’ so to speak."

A play full of action--people falling in love, dueling to the death, being banished and committing suicide, McMahon said she sees the play as a "non-stop train wreck"-"The faster we move through the action of the play," she said, "the more we enhance that out of control feeling."

Another unique element of the production is the use of the "best actor for the role regardless of gender."

"One of the nice things about setting this play in the future was that I didn’t feel constrained by the gender roles of Shakespeare’s time," McMahon said. "Romeo is still played by a man, and Juliet is still played by a woman, but wherever possible, I decided to cast the best actor for the role-- regardless of gender. So we end up with some very strong female characters in this production. It makes for some interesting sword fights!"

Colber Prosper, a junior majoring in history at the college, plays the role of Romeo, while Andi Morrow, a sophomore theatre major from Huntsville, Tenn., will play Juliet. Senior Evan Williams, a theatre major from Franklin, Tenn., plays Tybalt. Alumna Aja Rodriguez (‘04) will take on two male roles, Abraham Montague and Friar John, while Robert Hutchens, Maryville College’s multi-talented assistant director of international services, will play Friar Lawrence. Senior William McCurdy, a senior biology major from Jasper, Ga., will play Mercutio.

Performances begin at 8 p.m., March 8 to 10, while the final performance, held March 11, is a 2 p.m. matinee. Tickets are $5 for students, faculty, and staff; and $7 for general admission. MC students get in free with student ID. For more
information, contact McMahon at 865-981-8161 or e-mail heather.mcmahon@maryvillecollege.edu.

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