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Elden Street Players Turn to Shakespeare

July 31, 2002

Shakespeare’s "Romeo and Juliet," the tale of two lovers torn apart by their feuding families has been through a number of interpretations. Using gimmicks such as racial intolerance as the basis behind the Capulet’s and Montague’s hostility, the all-singing all-dancing rival gangs in West Side Story, and the updated-for-the-'90s film version starring Leonardo DiCaprio, the Bard’s words have been through many variations of the same theme.

"A lot of people think they know what "Romeo and Juliet" is, but they haven't actually seen it done and done well," said Elden Street Players director Scott Bailey. the community theater group is presenting the play at its Industrial Strength Theater in Herndon on Friday Aug. 2 at 8 p.m.

"Romeo and Juliet" will complete ESP's 14th full season.

“IT'S NOT SET in anti-Biblical south, not set on Mars. It's "Romeo and Juliet," the pure product," Bailey said.

Executive producer of the ESP, John Strycharske, said, "We are a black box theater, so because of the setting, the actual size, we have to set it kind of abstract. But we did do it along traditional lines with traditional costuming, Capulets, Montagues, almost as it would have first appeared."

Yet, the play is a challenge for the all-volunteer cast and crew. While Jack Seeley who plays Friar Laurence may be a seasoned veteran with about 18 Shakespearean plays under his belt, it is the first time for many of the ESP performers.

“This is the most challenging show I've ever been in. It's the most emotionally draining show ... It takes a lot to convey the emotions through the Shakespeare accurately, and at the same time passionately,” said Jordan Richardson who plays Romeo.

The Juliet of the show, Kelly Newman, expressed similar sentiments. "It's a tough part. [Juliet] really grows a lot ... It's the widest emotional range I've ever played," she said.

Not only do the language and emotions provide a challenge to the cast, but it took months of training to perfect the sword fights and street brawls that give the production its excitement.

Zack McLernon, who provides a bit of the comic relief as a watchman promises a quality production. "We have a powerful cast and a good director ... I think that opening night is really going to be good."

With that, others in the cast added, "The other nine performances will be good, too."