Lantern Theater Company Presents William Shakespeare¬'s Romeo and Juliet

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Lantern Theater Company Presents William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

Lantern Theater Company is set to present William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet under the direction of the Lantern's Artistic Director Charles McMahon as part of its record-breaking 18th season. As a companion to the performances, the Lantern will reprise its popular Scholars: In Conversation series with Sex, Swords & Surprises in Shakespeare's Verona, which will allow audiences to delve deeper into the play and explore its modern-day relevance.

About the show: "Lantern's Romeo and Juliet comes to the stage a play beloved all over the world for the tragic romance of its star-crossed lovers. But it is the story, too, of an enduring feud between the Capulet and Montague families – a conflict grown so deadly that it throws an entire city into turmoil. The danger on the streets is palpable: armed enemies from both sides lurk around corners, while the Prince threatens death to anyone who is caught up in the clash. When Romeo and his Juliet rise above the old grudges, their love may heal the deep divisions in Verona...or bring the whole city crashing down."

Romeo and Juliet features up-and-comers Sean Lally and Nicole Erb in the title roles with a powerful supporting cast of Philadelphia's best actors, and fight choreography by award-winning fight director J. Alex Cordaro.

"These kids are on the verge of adulthood in an environment of conflict and violence, trying to imagine something better and project themselves into it," says Romeo and Juliet director McMahon. "Romeo and Juliet are looking for and open to that feeling of love that conquers all, and that's where they're investing themselves. Until Romeo kills Tybalt, this is a tragedy that has the ability to be a romantic comedy. Most people gloss over the play and see it as sad – actually, the play turns sad. We want to lean into this reversal and jolt the audience emotionally, which I think is what Shakespeare was trying to do."

Romeo and Juliet runs March 1 – April 1, 2011 (press opening: March 7, 7 p.m.). [A full performance schedule follows in the fact sheet below.] Tickets are $20 – $36 and are available online at lanterntheater.org or by calling the Lantern Box Office at (215) 829-0395. $10 student rush tickets are available 10 minutes before curtain with valid ID; cash only. Additional discounts are available for seniors and groups of 10 or more. Lantern Theater Company is located at St. Stephen's Theater, 10th & Ludlow Streets in Center City Philadelphia.

Eagerly anticipated by local school districts, Romeo and Juliet's advance ticket sales have already cemented it as the best-selling student matinee series in the company's 17-year history. Lantern Theater Company's production is part of Shakespeare for a New Generation, a nationwide initiative sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with Arts Midwest. This prestigious award is granted annually to a select list of professional theater companies across the country and has allowed the Lantern to expand its classroom program into 10 schools in Philadelphia and South Jersey.

On March 12, 19, and 26, the Lantern will present Scholars: In Conversation – Sex, Swords & Surprises in Shakespeare's Verona, a three-part discussion series presented in conjunction with Romeo and Juliet. These conversations will explore the play's striking modern-day relevance as experts in neuroscience, conflict theory, and literature join Lantern artists for conversations about teenagers, feuds, and plot twists.

During Romeo and Juliet, the Lantern will also expand its accessibility offerings with the debut of Open Captioning, presented with support from VSA Pennsylvania and Art-Reach. Open Captioning displays dialogue and other sounds on an LED screen located near the stage, and is helpful to the deaf and hard-of-hearing as well as people whose second language is English. Audiences attending the performance on Friday, March 16 at 8:00 p.m. can enjoy this new service at no additional charge.

Cast & Production Team
The love story begins through a chance encounter between Romeo and Juliet, played by young actors Sean Lally and Nicole Erb, both making their Lantern debuts. The young lovers meet when Romeo, his cousin Benvolio (Kevin Meehan in his Lantern debut) and his friend Mercutio (Charlie DelMarcelle, seen in last season's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Uncle Vanya) sneak into a feast hosted by the Capulets (Leonard C. Haas and K.O. DelMarcelle, recently paired as Victor and Sibyl in the Lantern's Private Lives). The trespass by the Montagues does not go unnoticed by Juliet's hotheaded cousin Tybalt, played by Jake Blouch (New Jerusalem, A Skull in Connemara).

Frank X and Ceal Phelan, both award-winning and distinguished theater artists in Philadelphia, are cast as Romeo and Juliet's confidants: Friar Lawrence and the Nurse, respectively. The Lantern will honor the artistry of Ceal Phelan at An Evening in Verona on Friday, February 24, 2012, giving recognition for her many years of work with the Lantern both onstage (The Breath of Life, Uncle Vanya, Vigil) and as a director (The Taming of the Shrew). Actor Frank X has received four Barrymore Award nominations for his previous work at the Lantern, including his roles in "Master Harold"…and the boys and King Lear.

The Lantern's Production Manager and Scenic Designer Meghan Jones (Private Lives, Uncle Vanya) will create the world of Shakespeare's Verona, with lighting and sound design by Shelley Hicklin and Daniel Perelstein, respectively. Costumes by Mary Folino will be genuine to the time period. In keeping with the authenticity of the piece, actors will be using rapiers in hand combat staged by acclaimed fight director J. Alex Cordaro (Private Lives, A Skull in Connemara).

Scholars: In Conversation
Sex, Swords & Surprises in Shakespeare's Verona
March 12, 19 and 26, 2012
Moderated by Kathryn MacMillan, Lantern Theater Company Associate Artistic Director and Professor of Theater at West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Monday, March 12
7 p.m. | $10 general admission, $8 for seniors, students & Lantern subscribers
Panel Discussion: Sex: Romeo, Juliet & the Teenage Brain
An in-depth look at the tragic behavior of Romeo and Juliet through the lens of recent breakthrough studies of the teenage brain, including Shakespeare's surprising intuition about teen behavior and hypotheses of how brain development may affect the behavior and judgment of teens. Shakespeare scholar, Lantern Artistic Director, and Romeo and Juliet director Charles McMahon will join scholar Beatriz Luna, one of the country's foremost researchers on the teenage brain, in this discussion.

Beatriz Luna, PhD, is a Professor of Psychiatry at the Center for Neuroscience at University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. She is the director of the Laboratory for Neurocognative Development in Pittsburgh, PA, has been named one of the Top Ten Women in the Arts and Sciences, and is acknowledged as one of the leading authorities on the development of the teenage brain.

Monday, March 19
7 p.m. | $10 general admission, $8 for seniors, students & Lantern subscribers
Panel Discussion: Swords: Capulets, Montagues, and Modern Feuds
This discussion will bring together two scholars at the top of their respective fields, Randall Collins and Patricia Denison, to discuss the relationship between the family feud at the heart of Romeo and Juliet, and its relationship to modern political, cultural, and familial warfare.

Randall Collins, PhD, is the Dorothy Swaine Thomas Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. His most recent book is Violence: a Micro-Sociological Theory.
Patricia Denison, PhD, is Senior Lecturer in English and Chair of the Department of Theatre at Barnard College. Dr. Denison teaches Dramatic Literature, including courses in Shakespeare in Performance and The Uses of Speech.

Monday, March 26
7 p.m. | $10 general admission, $8 for seniors, students & Lantern subscribers
Panel Discussion: Surprises: How Supporting Characters Make the Play
Local Shakespearean scholar John-Paul Spiro and Romeo and Juliet actors Frank X (Friar Lawrence) and Charlie DelMarcelle (Mercutio) come together for this final discussion of the series.

John-Paul Spiro is an integral faculty member of Villanova University's Augustine and Culture program. He holds degrees from Vassar, CUNY, and the University of Chicago, and is a published authority on the cultural impact of William Shakespeare. This will be his fifth time serving as a panelist at the Lantern.

Dates: Romeo and Juliet
March 1 – April 1, 2012
Previews run March 1 – March 6
Opening night is Wednesday, March 7, 7:00 p.m.

Theater: Lantern Theater Company
At St. Stephen's Theater
10th & Ludlow Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Prices: Adults: $20-$36
Students: $10-$26
$10 student rush tickets available 10 minutes before curtain with valid ID; cash only

Special discounts are available for seniors and groups of 10 or more.

Tickets: Phone: (215) 829-0395
Online: www.lanterntheater.org

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