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School of Theatre and Dance presents ‘Romeo and Juliet’

February 21, 2017

Starting Thursday, Feb. 23, the Northern Illinois University School of Theatre and Dance will perform one of the most timeless and famous pieces of literature in history, William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” This production will explore the classic love story mixed with a contemporary style.

“I think it is as vital now as it was when it was written,” said Richard Raether, guest director for the production. Raether is the artistic director at the Artists’ Ensemble Theatre in Rockford.

This classic show tells the story of a pair of teenagers struck by love at first sight. However, when family rivalries interfere, the couple is pushed to give the ultimate sacrifice in order to protect their sacred vows.

Although traditionally performed in the style of the mid-1590s, “Romeo and Juliet” has a significant amount of content relating to today.

“I’m learning that these are just real people going through real problems,” said Schanora Wimpie, the actress playing Juliet.

Wimpie said the family rivalry in the show is ever present in the world today. “It definitely relates to today and society in general, like a lot of the feuds and war and specifically in Chicago, with the gang violence happening there now. It’s senseless war that gets in the way of love.”

The contemporary style in which the play is being performed helps make this show accessible to a modern audience as well. With the advanced language of Shakespeare, it’s important to make sure that the material still connects with the audience.

“It’s designed to have a very contemporary feel, which helps an audience to identify with the characters, to understand who they are and what motivates them,” Wimpie said. “I think once people come, they can find out how relatable it is, and actually start to question some of those things that are happening today in society.”

Performances are held at Huntley Middle School’s main auditorium, 1515 S. Fourth St. in DeKalb. Show times will start at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sundays, from Feb. 23 through 26 and March 2 through 5.

“It’s going to be a terrific show. It’s going to be action-packed. I’ve got a lot of humor in it, and yet it’s a tragedy for our times,” Raether said.

Tickets are $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and $9 for students. Ticket reservations or additional information is available by phone at 815-753-1600 or online at the School of Theatre and Dance.