William Shakespeare's tragedy "Romeo and Juliet" is among the most often performed of his plays.
Last summer the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival offered a fine production, and last Sunday PBS presented the operatic version by Charles Gounod.
The name Romeo has long suggested a romantic lover; Juliet less so, but then she has a "tomb" in Verona that today draws tourists regularly. And the Verona post office gets hundreds of letters for Juliet every Valentine's day - testimony to the lasting power of the play.
It is staged Friday and Saturday for the next three weeks at the Brewery Arts Center, presented by the Proscenium Players.
To compress the tale - and it's always a good idea to read a Shakespeare play if you plan to see it- the first act opens in Verona at the ball at Capulets' house with Romeo and friends gate-crashing, his meeting Juliet and the recognition of Romeo by the vindictive Capulet Tybalt.
There has long been a feud between the Capulets (Juliet) and the Montagues (Romeo). The lovers are teens and Juliet is playful here, but becomes more adult as the action continues.
The second act includes the famous balcony scene, where the teenage lovers trade professions of love while at first standing far apart. The line "Wherefore art thou, Romeo?" has long been spoofed, but it remains a plaintive cry by Juliet.
The play continues in Juliet's room, where Romeo lies with Juliet before leaving in banishment, Juliet is promised in marriage to the duke and she takes a sleeping potion from the Friar, masking her as dead. The last act has Friar Laurence learning that his instructions to Romeo have miscarried and the play ends with the death of the lovers.
The tragedy is presented in the poetry of the Bard, lifting it from a simple tale of love and death into a complex story of great emotional depths.
Written in 1591-95 it is a testament to the power of language. Its continued life for more than four centuries is proof of its continuing value today.
Here's what director Christopher James has to say about the play:
"With this production, I wanted to emphasis the powerful impact of the show. We've been hard at work making sure each scene is exciting and full of life. I hope people walk away from the show not saddened, but feeling they've just seen something really stirring and personal.
"I also hoped to reach a wider audience. To this end we've added martial-arts style fighting, made understanding a priority, and went for a modern, colorful, minimalist setting popular in a lot of contemporary theater. And it's funny. Just because the play ends emotionally, we went for scenes with great joy, humor and excitement.
"One last note: This is one of the strongest casts I've ever worked with. Having read the play several times, seen it many times, and directed it once before, I'm pretty familiar with the play. But these actors manage to still get me excited about this love story.
"And that's essential what it is - a love story. I believe what people remember the most, even more than the swordfights and the tragic plot, is the beautiful sentiment of what one person can feel about another."
• Contact Sam Bauman at email@example.com or 881-1236.
If you go:
What: "Romeo and Juliet" presented by the Proscenium Players of Carson City
When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday and April 18-19, 25-26
Where: Donald W. Reynolds Black Box Theater, the Brewery Arts Center, 449 W. King St.
Tickets: $12 general, $2 off for BAC members, seniors and students. Call 883-1976 for tickets or buy them at the door
Cast (in order of appearance):
Storyteller - Nicole Schader
Paris - Corey B Stockton
Peter - Ashley C. Smith
Abram - Denise Wagner
Benvolio - Lynette Brown
Tybalt - Warren Schader
Capulet - Jeffrey Fast
Montague/Friar John - Fritz Schlottman
Romeo - Leoney Berg
Juliet - Sarah Pennebaker
Nurse - Dana Worland
Mercutio - Jake Reid
Lady Capulet - Lesley Henrie
Friar Lawrence - Jody Paslov
Director - Christopher James
Producer - Laura Guberman
Fight Choreography - Christopher James and Warren Schader
Dance Choreographer - Robin Kato
Costume Designer - Chere' Brown
Set Designer - John Procaccini
Props - Jeffrey & Anna Fast
Stage Manager - Rebecca Dixon
Sound operator - Anna Fast
Light operator - Sarah Guberman