Romeo and Juliet ignites summer theatre season
By Angelica Ingram
Published May 15, 2018
A famous balcony, two dueling families and many kisses will be coming to the Highlands as the 2018 season of the Highlands Summer Festival kicks off with Romeo and Juliet.
Arguably one of William Shakespeare’s most well known stories, Romeo and Juliet is a tale of two lovers who are inseparable, but hindered by two families at war with one another.
This year’s production stars local talent Hannah Klose as Juliet and Highlands cottager Kyle Simpson as Romeo.
The young pair, who are both in university, say tackling such famous characters is both challenging and exhilarating.
“Playing a character like Juliet is definitely scary,” said Klose in an email to the paper.
“People are generally very attached to her, even before they see the show, so there’s a little bit of pressure to really get the character right. However, I mostly just feel very, very lucky to have this opportunity. I’m so grateful to Scot [Denton] and the Summer Festival for letting me play this incredible role.”
The production is under the artistic direction of Scot Denton, who has been with the Highlands Summer Festival for many seasons.
While audience members might have a preconceived notion of Juliet, Klose said every actress puts her own spin on the role, and she is no different.
“I have to work hard to not adhere to the stereotypical Juliet, and to find my own version of her instead,” she wrote.
Playing such a well known literary character has its perks as well.
“There are so many great things about this role. I get to say all kinds of iconic lines and I get to hang out on the most famous balcony in theatre. There are also lots of resources to help me figure out the character, which has been really helpful,” said Klose.
Simpson shares similar sentiments, noting that Romeo is a character that also comes with challenges.
“I feel so lucky to be playing Romeo,” he said in an email. “It’s a role I have always wanted to play, and being a part of this production is truly a dream come true.”
Simpson finds Romeo’s character one filled with extreme emotions.
“One moment he’s gloomy and crying, the next he’s fallen in love and immediately after that he’s about to murder someone. It’s a little tough to keep up with, but when we’re all on our feet with swords in hand I’m sure it will happen naturally.”
A student at the University of Ottawa, Simpson is completing a degree in music. His admiration for Shakespeare dates back to his high school days.
“I fell in love with Shakespeare in my last year of high school when we read Hamlet. The absolutely stunning language that the character Hamlet uses all the time left me speechless and so I decided to learn several of the monologues/soliloquies from the play by memory. I still know them to this day, and unlike most things, they are good at both parties and auditions.”
The pair are enjoying working together and learning from one another.
“Kyle is the perfect Romeo ... he reads Shakespeare really well and he’s a great actor. He gets stronger every time I see him, and I’m so excited to work with him further,” said Klose.
“Hannah is so much fun to work with,” wrote Simpson. “We had only met a couple times when rehearsals started but other members of the cast were convinced that we had known each other since we were kids … I love the way she plays Juliet because she is decisive and to the point when she needs to be while being charming and lovey-dovey when she is with Romeo. It’s an impressive balance and I always look forward to working on scenes with her.”
It’s likely that most audience members will have read the play or seen a movie version of Romeo and Juliet before seeing the local production, but the lead actors say there will still be plenty of surprises in store.
An amazing set, large ensemble cast and stellar production team contribute to the performance, which takes place at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion this July.
“The audience can expect love scenes, sword fights, poetry, camaraderie and tons of conflict between younger and older characters,” said Simpson.
“This production is much larger than any other I’ve been a part of. The massive set piece, the fight choreography, the sheer number of people; it’s incredible.”
Romeo and Juliet will be on stage at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion from July 2 to 10 (with the exception of July 7), with matinee and evening performances at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
For tickets contact 705-457-9933 or visit www.highlandssummerfestival.on.ca.