arts

Bloomington presents its own rendition of ‘Romeo and Juliet’

Monroe County Civic Theater produces the classic play with a high school twist



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Chris Pickrell Chris Pickrell

The world’s most famous love story will take a Bloomington angle when Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is performed in September on the outdoor Third Street Park stage. Auditions for the play, produced by The Monroe County Civic Theater, were hosted Monday and Tuesday at the park’s stage.

Director Russel McGee said he hopes to give the play a community feel by having the Montagues and Capulets, the play’s feuding families, dressed in Bloomington North and Bloomington High School South football jerseys.

“It seemed pretty natural to take something from within the community that’s already there and utilize that for the basis of the story,” McGee said. “I’m not trying to change (the play), I’m just trying to put it into a modern setting so that people will be able to relate to it.”

High school students from both Bloomington North and Bloomington South auditioned for roles in the play. Chloe Strauss, 13, will be a freshman at Bloomington North in the fall. She said she just finished “Seussical Jr.,” a musical based on Dr. Seuss’ books, on Sunday, which was also directed by McGee. She said she enjoyed working with the director enough to audition for “Romeo and Juliet” the very next day, even though she has not yet read the play.

“It’s really hard if you’ve never read the material,” she said. “It’s pretty much one huge tongue-twister.”

Both Strauss and her friend Katherine McDaniel, 14, were auditioning for the role of Juliet, though both said they did not care much about the football rivalry between the two local high schools and had other ideas for the play.

“I think Science Olympiad would be better (than football),” said McDaniel, who will be a sophomore at Bloomington High School North .

Maya Wahrman, 14, is on the other side of the rivalry, as she will be a freshman at Bloomington High School South in the fall, but had similar thoughts.

“On the one hand, I honestly don’t care about football,” she said. “But I think it’s a really big deal in Bloomington, the football rivalry between North and South, so I think (having the rivalry in the play) is a really good idea because it’s a big part of a lot of people’s lives.”

To add to the community theme of the play, McGee said he has offered the role of the prince to Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan.

“All politicians have to be able to act a little bit,” McGee said, laughing. He said the role of the prince is not a major one, but it is important, because much of the conflict revolves around the character.

“With his connection to the arts here in town, I knew it would be something he might be interested in,” McGee said.

Even if the mayor cannot participate, McGee said he still hopes the community will support the production. The free performances are scheduled for September 14, 15, 20 and 21.

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