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Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival Presents: Romeo and Juliet

| Wednesday, March 4, 2015

RomeoandJuliet_WEBEMILY DANAHER | The Observer

The timeless tale of romance and tragedy is coming to DPAC, this time in the interesting style of a traveling troupe with the exciting addition of live acoustic music. Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival’s professional ON TOUR group will perform an abridged, 75-minute version of Shakespeare’s classic “Romeo and Juliet.”

Dan Toot, one of the players in the production who will play the role of Mercutio, gave an account of his experience in an interview. When asked what attracts him to Shakespeare, Toot pointed to the timelessness of plays.

“These are stories that resonate to something deeply human, and allow everyone — performers included — to reflect on their condition and their connection to community,” he said.
R&J Cast1

Toot described the NDSF ON TOUR group as supportive and welcoming, which has benefitted the production, he said.

“It’s easy to undertake such a daunting project in such a short amount of time when you have a crew of supportive and viciously intelligent people,” he said.

In addition to preparing for its upcoming performances at Notre Dame, the group has spent some time touring local schools, where they not only perform but also lead acting workshops. Toot said the enthusiasm and interest of the community has been humbling.

“It really makes the entire exercise worth it to see student, teacher and townspeople alike all light up a bit when they connect with Shakespeare in a new way,” he said.

 

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This weekend’s performances of “Romeo and Juliet” will be unique in several ways. For one, it will include live acoustic music, which poses only the single challenge of logistics, Toot said. Otherwise, he said is excited about the addition.

“If I had all the power, I would require every theatre performance to be scored with live music,” he said. “There’s a certain breath of life that instruments give, and the texture they provide puts an energy in the room that I find vital.”

Another interesting facet of the production is the style of a traveling troupe, which affords only a small cast with limited props and costumes, allowing the audiences’ imaginations to create the scene. Toot said he sees this as its own element in the storytelling.

“By condensing the experience to a small company of six actors all onstage for the whole experience, we allow a look into the life of the performance,” he said.

The audience will see the performers change costumes, and each piece is tied to a specific character, Toot said.

“As the audience member, you develop a specific relationship to it. It takes no time at all for those watching to jump right into that conceit and take a certain delight in seeing the acrobatics that a simple addition or subtraction of a pair of glasses can display — remember that pair of glasses, that’s pretty … impressive!”

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Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival’s abridged production of “Romeo and Juliet” will take place March 5-7 at 7 p.m. in the Regis Philbin Studio Theater at DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available online or at the door as supplies last. Seating is limited.

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