Over the centuries, Shakespeare’s classic tale of star-crossed lovers in “Romeo and Juliet” has taken some innovative turns, like Leonard Bernstein’s musical of rival gangs in New York in “West Side Story” and in the just released movie of werewolves and vampires “Twilight: New Moon” that is already setting box office records.

TheaterWorks of Hartford is offering its own unique re-telling of the love story with “Shakespeare’s R & J” adapted by Joe Calarco until Sunday, December 20.  Set in a rigid Catholic boarding school where the boys are forbidden to read it, a copy of the play quickly becomes a tempting pleasure for a quartet of students.

With little more than a wooden chest, tolling bells, a flashlight, a long bolt of red satin cloth, a wall of red globed candles and vivid imaginations, these four lads set out to dramatically recreate the play, chapter, scene and verse, to discover its hidden meanings for themselves.

Rob Ruggiero puts these young and talented actors, Adam Barrie, Ashley Robinson, Paul Terzenbach and TJ Linnard, through their paces as they satisfy their curiosities and uncover truths about themselves. They play the newly met pair who live in households embroiled in a feud, as  well as all the other parts.

Juliet in the Capulet home is forbidden to have any contact with Romeo from the Montague clan.  Their ensuing love inadvertently leads to the deaths of her cousin Tybalt and Romeo’s henchmen Mercutio.  Romeo is banished from Verona and the two households resolve their enmity only after the tragic deaths of their children.

For tickets ($38, 48, 60), call TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at www.theaterworkshartford.org.  Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees weekends at 2:30 p.m.  Come early and enjoy a drink in the area upstairs where the New Britain Museum of Art has a fine portrait gallery of painting and photographs.

Watch how a quartet of prep school boys reinterpret this “death marked love” for their own generation as they abandon their black and white composition books and delve deeply into the Bard’s plague driven world of affection.  Here they unlock clues to their own characters, sexuality and desires.


This will appear in the Middletown Press on November 26.

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