In keeping with Shakespeare's declaration, “All the World's A Stage", the Fairfield Youth Shakespeare Theater Company is launching its second annual production of Romeo and Juliet outdoors at the Greenfield Hill Congregational Church's Memorial Garden.
Performances are Thursday, Aug. 5, Friday, Aug. 5 and Sunday, Aug. 7 at 6 p.m. There are two performances on Saturday, Aug. 6, at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. Blankets, chairs and picnic dinners are welcome. If it rains, performances will be held indoors, onstage at the Church House, which is also located on the property.
Brendan Quinn, one of Fairfield Youth Shakespeare's founding members, and a member of the church, suggested performing last year's show in the Memorial Garden because of its scenic beauty. The garden's well-groomed landscape, elegant trees and stone wall structures provide a fitting backdrop for the traditional
Elizabethan-style plays that unfold within its borders. “It's a gorgeous setting,” Brendan said. “I've done a lot of activities out there with the church youth group. The space is hardly used.”
He also pointed out that the church has graciously donated the grounds and, overall, been supportive of the actors' efforts.
Fairfield Youth Shakespeare debuted last year with a rousing production of Twelfth Night. “It was a great success,” said Andrew Pane, 20. He is also a founding member and, along with Sarah Kosheff, co-director of Romeo and Juliet. Pane said, “At every performance, our audiences steadily grew.”
In stating the intent of Fairfield Youth Shakespeare on its website, Pane writes, “Preserving the theatre, and all that it means, has become a struggle in the world today. National companies and repertory theaters all around are being shut down, and even the big lights of Broadway are flickering. In light of this, it is our mission as students of the theatre to provide free, quality public performances -- not for profit, but because we love the stage.”
An acting major at the University of Connecticut, Pane said that he and five friends—Quinn, Kosheff, Tara Reuter, Jordan Mann and Nick
Salese—were first introduced to the Bard by Fairfield Warde High
School teacher Mark Frattaroli.
About half of last season's cast returned to perform Shakespeare this
summer, said Quinn. “We love that we have attracted people from towns outside of Fairfield, too, this year,” he added. The actors range in age from rising seniors in high school to recent college graduates.
Reuter, an acting student at the Hartt School, will portray the iconic role of Juliet this weekend. She said that although it's a “fantastic
opportunity” to play one of Shakespeare's most popular leading
ladies, it's also challenging. “I usually play stronger female
characters,” she said.
Along with delving deeply into her role, Reuter has also enjoyed getting to meet cast members from other towns this summer.
One of this year's newcomers, Ryan Marcone, who plays Romeo, hails from Stratford. Like Pane, Marcone is part of UCONN's theater program. When he learned about auditions for Romeo and Juliet, Marcone said he decided to “throw my hat into the ring.”
Like Reuter, Marcone said that it's “daunting” to tackle such a well-known figure in pop culture. “Everyone knows who Romeo is, even people who don't go to the theater,” Marcone said. “However, the exciting part is getting wrapped up in the story of the play. You realize how good it really is.” Although the Fairfield group is performing an abridged version, the play should run about 2 ½ hours.
Several parents have stepped in to help the fledgling theater company. The traditional Elizabethan costumes were provided by Diane Reuter and the Phoenix Company. Diane Pane is the set designer and prop master. Doug Frawley constructed the balcony. Some original music was composed specifically for this production by Robert Kosheff. “I am so impressed and very supportive of all of these young people,” said Diane Pane. “They are helping to keep the arts alive in Fairfield.”
The cast of “Romeo and Juliet” is Tara Reuter as Juliet, Ryan Marcone
as Romeo, Andrew Pane as Friar Lawrence, Sarah Kosheff as the Nurse, Brendan Quinn as Paris, Darrell Hollens as Mercutio, Andrew Parker as Benvolio, Nick Salese as Tybalt, Daniel Dalrymple as Lord Capulet, Maureen Cashman as Lady Capulet, Paul Goodman as Lord Montague, Cassidy Tarczali as Lady Montague and the Apothicary, Steve Cartagena as Peter, Colin Fox as Abraham, and Giorgio Fareria as Prince Escalus.
The Greenfield Hill Congregational Church is located at 1045 Old Academy Road, Fairfield. For more information, go to www.fairfieldyouthshakespeare.com.