BWW Reviews: Shakespeare's Timeless Classic Plays at the KC Rep
The tragic love story of the ages, Romeo and Juliet, playing at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre runs through February 9. William Shakespeare's disastrous tale of family feuds, loyalty, and teenage love has stood the test of times. Directed by Eric Rosen, Artistic Director for the KC Rep, the production with minimal scenery and beautiful elaborate costumes, designed by Lindsay W. Davis and Lauren Gaston, which transports the audience back to Verona, Italy.
Before the opening curtain John Wilson, the fight director, gives the audience a feel for what is about to come to the stage, as the actors practice their sword fight routines at half speed. It is amazing to watch during the live production as the participants move fluently about the stage thrusting and blocking the metal blades.
Courtney Salvage is superb in her role of Juliet, the 14 year-old daughter of Capulet, though promised in marriage, she falls deeply for an archenemy of the family, Romeo Montague. Salvage is magnificent as she delivers humorous quips, breaking the tension of the plot for the audience. Her talent shines as she flies into rants and rage on stage. Previously she has appeared at the Rep in Death of a Salesman and at the Unicorn/UMKC Theatre in The Winter's Tale, The Lady from the Sea, and Seminar among other productions.
Jamie Dufault makes his KC Rep debut as the ill-fated Romeo, who gives his heart and life to the beautiful Juliet. Defaults performance in act one is slightly lack luster (a little more than adequate but not memorable), but he returns to the stage in act two exhibiting a high amount of energy and exuberance. His second act performance gives the audience what they have come to expect from the KC Rep stage, marvelous performances from all.
Zachary Andrews plays Mercutio, the friend of Romeo. Andrews has appeared at the Rep in A Christmas Carol and recently closed his role in Dracula at the Coterie Theatre. He is terrific in his role as he defends the honor of the Montagues and Romeo in particular. A well-executed sword fight with Tybalt, played by Michael Pauley, is exciting to watch as the fluid motion of the cold steel swipes over, under, and near their target.
Rusty Sneary portrays Benvolio, providing the audience with a strong powerful performance in the supporting role. Having seen Sneary perform many times it is easy to expect excellence in his performances, and he never fails to deliver. He is co-owner and Artistic Director of The Living Room Theatre and has previously performed at the Rep in The Foreigner, Carousel, and A Christmas Carol among other credits.
The Kanas City Repertory Theatre's production of Romeo and Juliet was so masterfully done that it took me to a new level of enjoyment of a Shakespearean play. Elaine Jacobs a 14 year-old attending the performance said, "He really likes to break the fourth wall, and they do it so well it works."
Romeo and Juliet continues at the Spencer Theatre, located on the University of Missouri at Kansas City campus through February 9. Purchase tickets at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre website or by calling the box office at 816-235-2700.