‘Romeo and Juliet’ gets modern-day reboot
CHRISTIANSBURG — The annual Sinkland Farms pumpkin festival is set to open its doors Saturday, but one of its featured performances will do so two days prior.
That is, if it had doors to open.
For the second-straight year, the farm will host the Open Air Shakespeare NRV theater group, which plans to perform a modernized version of the classic play “Romeo and Juliet.”
Director Julia Katz said the show will include the original, though shortened, Shakespearean text, but will take place in a modern setting.
She said she encouraged her close to 25 cast members to think of the classic conflict between the Capulet and Montague families as a reflection of the conflicting suburban and rural societies she sees present in the New River Valley.
“We see Lord Capulet as the upper middle class, while the Montagues have lived here forever,” Katz said.
Katz said the technology will be very present in the play, and she feels it will play a role in bridging the generation gap.
Early on, the audience will see Romeo and Juliet interact with computers and cell phones, but as they develop a real-life connection with each other, they become less involved with using technology as a means of connection, Katz said.
Wilson Murphy, the play’s Romeo, said he believes the modern setting will appeal to younger audience members, as will the fact that the majority of the cast are playing roles consistent with their actual ages.
The performers’ ages range from 8 to 68, with Robert Smith, who plays Lord Capulet, at the upper end of the age spectrum.
Though often asked how he manages to perform late into the evening after a full day of work, Smith said he is always energized by his youthful counterparts.
“I’d rather hang around with these young kids than old farts any day,” Smith said. “I learn from those kids every night.”
One of those “kids” Smith often interacts with on stage is Hollie Huff, who plays Juliet.
While the role is a demanding one, Huff said she enjoys portraying the coming-of-age character.
“I love that she’s having this awakening about who she is as a person,” Huff said.
Those interested in watching the classic play on a modern backdrop will have four opportunities to do so at Sinkland
Farms today through Sunday and four more at Smithfield Plantation on Oct. 4-7.
Thursday through Saturday shows begin at 7 p.m., while Sunday shows start at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students, with a special $15 rate for couples. Children ages 5 and younger will be admitted for free.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1643
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