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ROMEO AND JULIET at Actors Theatre Of Little Rock

Article Written by Sandee Pinkstaff

To say I was excited to attend Actors Theatre of Little Rock’s (ATLR) production of Romeo and Juliet on opening night is an understatement. Since experiencing their inaugural season’s production of Bright Star and then this “Breaking Boundaries” season’s Skeleton Crew and The Mountaintop, I’m a true ATLR fan. Under the expert guidance of co-founder and Executive Producing Artistic Director Mark A. Burbank, ATLR has risen in the Little Rock area as a strong community based theatrical presence. The honesty and professionalism this company brings to the area is evident and refreshing. I, for one, have begun to anticipate each new show. ATLR’s production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet reinforced this notion.

Review: ROMEO AND JULIET at Actors Theatre Of Little Rock

Knowing that skilled Director Emily Swenskie dared to go with an all female or female presenting persons only cast heightened my anticipation. I not only found this empowering for women but also intriguing in that we know that Shakespeare’s characters were originally played by men. How would the characters carry out their roles? How would they dress, speak? I don’t intend to ruin your experience with spoilers but I will tell you, Swenskie, choreographer Lexi Brooks, and fight choreographer Xander Udochi got it right! Those fight scenes were impressive! Burbank’s unique stage arrangement and character action created a rich opportunity for audience engagement.

Review: ROMEO AND JULIET at Actors Theatre Of Little Rock

The Romeo and Juliet cast was led by Ivy McGrew (Romeo) and Rylee Bolls (Juliet). Both McGrew and Bolls showed great range with their performances, humorous to tragic. From their first meeting to their final scene, they conveyed earnestly raw chemistry. Even though you knew their eventual fate, you were somehow hoping their outcome may somehow change.

Romeo’s two friends Mercutio played by Shea Barham and Benvolio by Georgeann Burbank also exhibited great ability in range. They doubled as Prince Escalus and Friar Lawrence respectively. The artistry they brought to each role with their timing, articulation, physicality, and passion was honest and pure.

Review: ROMEO AND JULIET at Actors Theatre Of Little Rock

Rounding out Juliet’s household were Paige Carpenter (Capulet), Emory Molitor (Lady Capulet), Amelia Migliore (Nurse and Sampson), Miki Gaynor (Peter), Shaina Tippett (Tybalt ), and Savannah Price (Gregory).

Romeo’s household was played by B. Dumas (Montague and Paris), Darby Lytle (Lady Montague), Miki Gaynor (Balthazar), and Lexi Brooks (Abram).
Featured during this run are Arkansas Period Poverty Project Action Night on April 12th, Teen Night on April 14th, Community Connections & Conversations addressing Mental Health in the Theatre on April 15th, and Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebration on closing night, April 20th.

ATLR is accepting feminine products through the run of the show at their home at Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church.

Review: ROMEO AND JULIET at Actors Theatre Of Little Rock

Mark your calendars for upcoming ATLR productions: the Arkansas premiere of 26 Pebbles, May 29-June 8; Chicago (An Immersive Experience), July 10-27; What the Constitution Means to Me, September 11-21; Dance Nation, October 30- November 9; Dreamgirls (An Immersive Experience), December 4-21; and Black Nativity, December.
Find more details and tickets at https://actorstheatrelr.org.

Photo Credit: Matthew Sewell

Review: ROMEO AND JULIET at Actors Theatre Of Little Rock

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