Home Performing arts WATCH NOW: Runaway Kenosha Artists Perform ‘Romeo and Juliet’ | Local News

WATCH NOW: Runaway Kenosha Artists Perform ‘Romeo and Juliet’ | Local News

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What: Fleeing Artists Production of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”

When: Performances take place on two weekends: Friday to Sunday, August 19 to 21 and August 26 to 28. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Where: Rhode Center for the Arts, 514 56th St. in downtown Kenosha

Tickets: $15 general admission or $13 for seniors, students, educators, and military. (Please bring ID to the box office for discounted tickets.) Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at fleeingartists.org.

About this show: This version of “Romeo and Juliet” was shortened to be “two quick hours,” said Alex Metalsky, one of the founders of Fleeing Artists. “Those are all Shakespeare’s words, just less.”

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Another twist, Metalsky said, involves staging. “The cast of the show play actors from the fictional Runaway Artists Squad, who are doing a production of ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ So it’s a show within a show,” he said. “There will also be interactions with the public.”

This production, he added, “is pretty traditional. It’s a beautiful love story, and it’s definitely a time when we need more stories about such things.”

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Meet the cast

Kenosha’s Fleeing Artists Theater was founded in 2018 by Kenneth Montley, Kevin Duffy and Alex Metalsky, three alumni of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside theater program.

Metalsky explained that the name “Fleeing Artists” came “from an article we read that said people in the arts are fleeing small towns for bigger cities”. Instead of leaving Kenosha, he said, “we want it to become a place where the arts flourish.”

Since its inception, the non-profit Fleeing Artists troupe has performed indoor and outdoor performances in Kenosha’s Lincoln Park and the historic theater at the Rhode Center for the Arts.

Their productions are wide ranging, including Shakespeare classics, Neil Simon comedies (“The Odd Couple”), modern dramas and Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”.

The troupe’s fifth season opens with “Romeo and Juliet” and also includes the comedy “Boeing, Boeing” and the historical drama “A Raisin in the Sun.”

To learn more about Fleeing Artists, visit fleeingartists.org and check out their Facebook page.

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A family project

This production of “Romeo & Juliet” is a family project for the Churchills.

Ralph Churchill works with his daughter, Annika, who directs the play with him, and his wife, Jaime, plays Lady Capulet.

Ralph Churchill has decades of experience in community theatre, having directed over 20 shows and performed on stage as an actor.

He has also done technical work for professional theater groups, including sound and set design.

But this is the first time he has worked with his daughter to direct a show.

“It’s been a lot of fun working together,” said the Round Lake Beach, Illinois resident. “Annika started coming to the cinema with us at the age of 4, and it is a family passion.”

Annika Churchill is making her directorial debut “and doing that with my dad is great,” she said. “We basically have the same brain, so we work very well together.”

When not working in community theater, Annika — who graduated with a degree in musical theater from Long Island University in May 2021 — works as a singer and dancer at Six Flags Great America.

This production, she said, “has a great cast and is so much fun. We tried to keep the truth of the show intact but with a 21st century mindset.”

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Here’s the thing about William Shakespeare: everyone thinks they know his plays – at least his most famous ones – but it’s always possible to be surprised by a production.

The Fleeing Artists theater group kicks off its fifth season with one of the bard’s most popular shows: “Romeo and Juliet.”

What? A drama during the summer season? And a romance written in 1595 – centuries before texting, Tinder and even the telephone?

“It’s a very well-known story, but we approach it a little differently,” said co-director Ralph Churchill, during a break in rehearsal Monday night at the Rhode Center for the Arts, where the show opens. . Friday night.

Audiences will notice this “different take” as soon as Romeo – half of the romantic couple at the center of the tale – appears on stage.

This Romeo is played by Chloé Attalla, and she doesn’t play Romeo as a male character.

This Romeo is a woman, and she is in love with Juliet, played by Emily Keiner.

The heads of the story’s central families, the Capulets and the Montagues, are also all female characters.

In other words, Romeo has two moms. Just like Juliet.

“Our focus is how you don’t control who you love,” Churchill said, “and the people in this room love themselves for who they are.”

The cursed lovers

Attalla, who just graduated with an acting degree from UW-Milwaukee, makes his debut with Fleeing Artists.

It is also his first time in “Romeo and Juliet”.

“I appreciate this character,” she said of her Romeo. “It’s fun to play a more aggressive role than usual.”

Shakespeare’s Tragic Romance, she said, “is a dream show for me. I love how there’s a bit of comedy throughout the show, even though it’s a tragedy.”

She cites Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 film “Romeo + Juliet” – starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in the title roles of two teenagers who fall in love, despite being members of feuding modern crime families – as one of his inspiration.

When Keiner isn’t playing Juliet on stage, she’s a music teacher, graduating from Augustana College in May 2021.

It’s her very first role in a Shakespeare play, and she enjoys “really digging into the character of Juliet. I didn’t realize how much of a part her family was in this show.”

The fact that Romeo and Juliet are female characters “gives a different perspective to the show,” she said. “We play two women in love at a time when that wasn’t common. When they kill each other, maybe they thought they had no other choice.”

fight club

For Talia Last — a theater arts major at UW-Parkside — playing the role of Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin, is a chance to mix it up on stage.

“This character is a full Capulet and loves to fight,” Last said.

Luckily, she has plenty of onstage combat experience over her decade in acting (which began with a 2012 Lakeside Players production of the musical “Annie”).

Stage sparring, she said, “is a fun way to train. You feel powerful and confident while exercising.”

She likes “every time I’m on stage with a sword in my hand”.

Feed some laughs

The gender bending in this production extends to the role of Juliet’s nurse/nanny, played here by Cory Fitzsimmons.

The role is quite a change for Fitzsimmons, who made his Fleeing Artists debut in July 2021 as the title character in the Greek tragedy “Oedipus Rex.”

“Nurse is a really fun role,” Fitzsimmons said. “That’s the comedic role on the show, and I have a lot of fun with it. I also have fun portraying a woman in an authentic way.”

He “watched ‘I Love Lucy’ a lot, so Lucille Ball is my inspiration for that role, along with my high school lunch lady,” Fitzsimmons said. “I find the humor in this piece.”