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Chicago Shakespeare Announces 'Short Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet,' 2/23-3/23

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) announced today casting for Short Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet, a 75-minute abridged production of Shakespeare's tragedy of true love found-and tragically lost, adapted and staged by Jeff Award-winning director and Chicagoan of the Year in Theater Rachel Rockwell. Providing a quality, family-friendly introduction to Shakespeare on Saturday mornings from February 23 to March 23, 2013, the cast of Rockwell's production includes Chicago actors Christopher Allen and Laura Rook, who make their CST debuts in the title roles.

Christopher Allen makes his Chicago Shakespeare debut as Romeo, after performing the role of Clint Turnbull in Griffin Theatre's production Letters Home. He reunites with Rockwell after performing in the 2012 Jeff Award-nominated production ENRON at TimeLine Theatre. Laura Rook makes her Chicago Shakespeare debut as Juliet, after having performed in productions at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival (The Winter's Tale, Romeo and Juliet), Writers' Theatre (Hesperia) and American Players Theatre (Troilus and Cressida). She is currently performing in Skylight at Court Theatre.

Actors returning to Chicago Shakespeare for Short Shakespeare! Romeo and Julietare Lynn Robert Berg as Friar Laurence/Lord Montague, Melissa Carlson as Lady Capulet, Alejandro Cordoba as Sampson/Ensemble (through March 9), Kurt Ehrmann as Lord Capulet, Maureen Gallagher as Nurse, Tim Gittings as Peter/Friar John, Nicholas Harazin as Benvolio and Edgar Miguel Sanchez as Sampson/Ensemble (starting March 11). Making their Chicago Shakespeare debuts are Samuel Ashdown as Tybalt, Kamal Angelo Bolden as Prince/Paris, Jeb Burris as Mercutio and Christopher Sheard as Balthazar/Apothecary/Ensemble.

Named the 2012 Chicagoan of the Year in Theater by the Chicago Tribune, Jeff Award-winning director Rachel Rockwell returns to Chicago Shakespeare after staging last summer's critically acclaimed family musical Beauty and the Beast, hailed as "far and away the best family production of the year" by the Chicago Tribune. Rockwell's additional credits with the theater include last year's Short Shakespeare! production of The Taming of the Shrew and the world premiere family musicals The Adventures of Pinocchio and The Emperor's New Clothes. Her work as a choreographer has been seen on CST's stages in productions includingThe Merry Wives of Windsor, Romeo and Juliet and Measure for Measure. In addition to regional credits throughout the country, Rockwell's Chicago-area directing and choreography credits include productions at The Marriott Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Apple Tree Theatre, Noble Fools Theatricals and Drury Lane Oakbrook, where she garnered a 2010 Best Director Jeff Award for Ragtime.

Rockwell's production team for Short Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet includes Scenic Designer Scott Davis, Costume Designer Theresa Ham, Lighting DesignerGreg Hofmann, Composer Ethan Deppe, Wig and Make-up Designer Melissa Veal, Properties Master Chelsea Meyers, Fight Choreographer Matt Hawkins and Verse Coach Matt Schwader.

Short Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet is performed Saturdays at 11 a.m. from February 23 to March 23, 2013 in CST's Courtyard Theater. Tickets are on sale now for $16-$20, and all patrons receive a 40% discount on guaranteed parking in Navy Pier garages. Recommended for ages 10 and up. Immediately following each Saturday performance, actors will remain on stage for a discussion with the audience, and audience members are invited to join the actors for one-on-one conversations and photo opportunities in CST's lobbies after the discussion. The duo sign-interpreted performance for patrons with hearing impairments will be held on March 23. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater's website

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