Teen theater to present ‘timeless’ tale

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From left, Jessica Sember as Juliet Capulet, Jonathan David as Friar Lawrence, and Quentin Labrecque as Romeo Montague rehearse a scene from the Naugatuck Teen Theater’s upcoming production of William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Monday at St. Michael’s Parish Hall in Naugatuck. The play opens Saturday. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck Teen Theater is bringing the tale of two star-crossed lovers to the stage.

The theater will present William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” the first two weekends in May.

The production opens at 8 p.m. Saturday at the St. Michael’s Parish Hall, 210 Church St. The show also runs at 8 p.m. May 11 and May 12 and at 2 p.m. Sunday and May 13.

The play follows the growing romance between Juliet Capulet and Romeo Montague, who must keep their love hidden due to a rivalry between their families.

The young actors say one of the most difficult parts of the performance has been learning lines since Shakespeare’s works were written in the late 1500s and early 1600s, and written in early modern English, a precursor to today’s English.

“From the beginning, a lot of us were tripping on our words because it was the first time we had read Shakespeare,” said Sydney Lauer, who plays Lady Capulet.

Killian Meehan, who plays Mercutio, has performed Shakespeare plays before and is well aware how difficult the dialogue can be.

“When you say, ‘I am going to do Shakespeare,’ it might be scary at first. It is kind of learning English in a different way. The sentence structure is different,” Meehan said.

Despite the difficulty with the language, the actors have embraced the show, director Lucia Dressell said.

“It really was another language for them and they worked immensely hard. They know what they are saying and they know their motivations. It is just a lovely production,” Dressell said.

Meehan echoed Dressel’s sentiments.

“As you can see with this amazing cast, when you get the hang of it, it turns into an amazing finished product,” Meehan said.

Hannah Lavergne, who plays both Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin, and Balthasar, Romeo’s servant, said the play is coming along well as opening night approaches.

“It is looking really great. Everyone in this cast is doing so well,” Lavergne said.

Although not her first time directing, this is Dressell’s first time directing a Naugatuck Teen Theater production.

Dressell said she’s always wanted to do a production of Shakespeare with teens and, when given the opportunity, she chose “Romeo and Juliet” because it worked well with the demographic.

“The characters in the play are teens for the most part,” Dressell said.

Quentin Labrecque, who plays Romeo, encouraged people to come to the show to not only see an iconic Shakespeare play, but to see how well the actors do in the performance.

“I think people would come see the shows to see the actors,” Labrecque said. “Gifted directors know how to bring the best out of their actors. I think [Dressell] did exactly that.”

Jessica Sember, who plays Juliet, said people will enjoy the play even if they don’t typically like other Shakespeare plays.

“Everyone has put such hard work into this show and it is paying off. I think everyone would thoroughly enjoy seeing this even if Shakespeare isn’t their forte,” Sember said.

Dressell said everyone who comes will find something they truly like about the play.

“Why is Shakespeare still on Broadway? It is timeless and it is universal. It always will be.

There is something in it that will speak to everyone,” Dressell said.

Tickets for the play are $7 for students, $10 for senior citizens, and $15 for adults. Tickets are available at the door or online at www.naugatuckteentheater.com.