FULTON, NY – Romeo’s Juliet asks “What’s in a name?” and when it comes to Shakespeare, mixed response quickly follows from grimace to enthusiasm. Ask an actor that question and the challenge quickly becomes irresistible. But for local theatre companies, balancing audience appeal with actor enthusiasm is not always easy.
CNY Arts Center hopes Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” will bridge the gap when the production opens August 15 and runs through August 24 at its location at 357 State St. and Park Street featuring local actors from all three area theatre companies.
“We were thrilled at the turnout for auditions,” said Nancy Fox, producer. “It’s not surprising that actors well known for their brilliant work at other theatre companies in the area would embrace the opportunity to do Shakespeare on stage when the opportunity arises. It’s tough for us as a small theatre company to risk box office sales on Shakespeare but the trade off is a superb cast with the acting experience to deliver an exceptional production.”
Actors from Oswego Players, Fulton Community Theatre and CNY Arts Center veterans will be seen in this modern retelling of the classic love story.
Directed by Amy Price, herself familiar to all three companies, the cast includes blind-gender casting, a staple in Shakespeare’s day when boys were often cast as women. In this production, strong female actors will portray some male characters.
The cast includes the familiar names of Knate MacKenzie Roy and Nikki Bolio as the ill-fated lovers Romeo and Juliet.
William Edward White, Fulton Community Theatre artistic director and board chairman plays the venerable Friar Lawrence.
Lord and Lady Capulet are portrayed by Bobby Fontana, director for Oswego Players and frequent CNY Arts Center veteran, and Sara Sheffield Wallace.
Lord and Lady Montague are played by Donald Crowe and Valerie Dedich with Kyle Cumby Walton as Paris, Stephanie Johnson as Benvolio and Kristin Cook, a CNY Arts Center veteran, playing dual roles of Prince Escalus and the Apothecary.
Mercutio is played by Beverly Poznoski, Juliet’s Nurse is Marguerite Beebe, a CNY Arts Center veteran, with Tybalt played by Colleen Deitrich.
Nick Pike, a familiar face to Fulton and Oswego audiences, plays Friar John, while Christopher Metz will be seen as Balthasar.
Rita LaPage, plays the role of Sam, Julia Preston as Gregory, Marlina Beebe, another CNY Arts Center veteran, as Abram, Griffin Marriner as Peter, Julia Allen as the Servant/Page and Matthew McCabe rounds out the cast as Servant.
All of these actors have local acting credits and many have stage time for more than one theatre company making this an unprecedented assembly of acting talent.
In addition, Marguerite Beebe will serve as lighting designer; Steve Beebe, who designed the original Godspell set, will return to serve as technical director for this production while Liz Ladd, an actress familiar to Fulton and Oswego, serves as costume designer.
“It’s exciting to see all these wonderful actors together on stage doing what they do best,” Fox said. “We have very talented actors right here in Oswego County and CNY Arts Center is proud to bring them all together for our Shakespearean debut. It’s reason enough to see this production whether Shakespeare excites you or not.”
The performance runs August 15, 16, 22 and 23 at 8 p.m. and August 17 and 24 at 3 p.m. at CNY Arts Center, at 357 State St. at Park Street entrance.
For tickets, information or reservations, visit www.CNYArtsCenter.com or call 592-3373.