Shakespeare-in-the-Schools touring production of Romeo and Juliet

The Utah Shakespeare Festival is hitting the road with its Shakespeare-in-the-Schools touring production of Romeo and Juliet and is coming to a school near you, including Central Arizona College.

A public performance for students and adults will be held at the Don P. Pence Center for the Visual and Performing Arts at Central Arizona College (CAC) in Coolidge at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 21. General admission is $10 and student tickets and CAC employees are $5. Tickets are available online at For more information call (520) 477-SHOW or send an e-mail to

From January to April, the Utah Shakespeare Festival will take its Shakespeare-in-the-Schools touring production of Romeo and Juliet to more than 25,000 students in three western states. The tour will spend 14 weeks on the road visiting schools, community centers, and correctional facilities across Utah, Nevada, and Arizona with over 65 performances for 120 schools.

To begin the tour, there was a public performance in Cedar City at the Randall L. Jones Theatre on January 24 at 7:30 pm.

In its 16th year, this educational outreach program features a 75-minute version of Shakespeare's tragic love story, Romeo and Juliet, including complete costumes, sets, and theatrical lighting. Also included is a fifteen-minute post-show discussion with the actors with optional workshops in Stage Combat, Performing Shakespeare's Text, and Developing Character through Improvisation.

"The educational tour is our favorite piece of programming that we have here at the Festival, as well as our most important," said Brian Vaughn, co-artistic director. "This tour will introduce hundreds of students to the power of William Shakespeare's written word. There's a communal impact and vitality that one gleans by attending live theatre, and through these plays we usher in the next generation of playgoers that will keep our craft vital and alive."

When examining this play director John Maclay asked the question "why is Shakespeare still popular today?" He believes that Shakespeare truly understood what it meant to be human and he understood how to describe that to an audience. "His language is truthful and the relationships in his plays are truthful," said Maclay. "Given the parameters of the world of the play, people are willing to suspend their disbelief when they believe in the story being told, and I believe in Romeo and Juliet."

The play is set in a modern time period with hints of Asian influences. Costume Designer Christina Leinicke uses color to delineate the alliances; teal is for the Montagues, gold represents the Capulets and white is neutral. The set is also symbolic in its design. Scenic Designer and Props Director Ben Hohman created a bridge that enhances the separation between the two feuding families until Romeo and Juliet fall in love thus bridging the gap and connecting Montagues and Capulets. The show's music and lighting are also used to heighten the overall theatricality.

Professionals from all over the country will perform in this production of Romeo and Juliet. This eleven-person group serves as both the acting company and the support crew with eight actors, a company manager, a stage manager, and a technical director. The actors include four returning Festival company members, as well as four first-time actors.

The four returning actors were all seen in this past 2012 season at the Festival: Chris Klopatek (Romeo) performed in Hamlet, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Les Misérables; Chris received his MFA in acting from the University of California-Irvine. Melisa Pereyra (Juliet) performed in Titus Andronicus and Scapin; Melisa received her MFA in classical acting from Illinois State University. Josh Innerst (Friar/Tybalt) performed in Titus Andronicus, Mary Stuart, and The Merry Wives of Windsor; Josh received his MFA in classical acting from Illinois State University. And Elizabeth Telford (Lady Capulet) performed in The Greenshow and Les Misérables; Elizabeth received her BFA in musical theatre from Shorter University.

The four new actors to work with the Festival are Zack Powell (Mercutio/Ensemble) who received his MFA in acting from Illinois State University, Elyse Edelman (Benvolio/Friar) who received her BFA in acting from the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater program, Thomas J. Novak (Capulet) who received his BA in directing and performance from Carthage College, and Sara Zientek (Nurse) who received her BA in acting from UW-Milwaukee.

The support crew all spent this past 2012 season working at the Festival: Tricia Hofacker (company manager) worked as the assistant company manager; Tricia received her BA in communication arts/theatre and professional and organizational communication from Ohio Northern University. Shay Garber (stage manager) worked as a member of the Festival's company management team; Shay received her BFA in stage management from Syracuse University. And Mary Hosford (technical director) worked as an audio technician on Titus Andronicus and Mary Stuart; Mary received her BFA in theatre arts from Stephens College.
In addition to support from the Shakespeare for a New Generation program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, this tour is sponsored by the Utah State Office of Education, Mountain West Small Business Finance, and UBS Bank.
For a complete tour schedule visit

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