Fall in Love with Romeo & Juliet at Civic Theatre

I am such a happy camper after taking my youngest teen on a date to see SHAKESPEARE on stage at Civic Theatre! Theatre has always been my happy place, and I especially love the magical poetry of Shakespeare’s plays. Seeing my Taylor Swift-loving 13-year-old daughter open her mind to appreciate this 430-year-old story of the star-crossed lovers Romeo & Juliet while having a fun night out with her mom felt like a huge parenting victory. (Side note: during the car ride on the way to the show, my kid challenged me to play the “Who Said It – Taylor Swift or Shakespeare” game – look it up! These two poetic storytellers have more in common than I thought.)

Key takeaway: whether you need a romantic date night, a fun girls’ night, or an outing that will help your tweens or teens learn to love Shakespeare, I highly recommend the Civic Theatre’s luminous and fast-paced production of Romeo & Juliet.

Fall in Love with Romeo & Juliet at Civic Theatre
Photo Credit: Zach Rosing

It’s not easy to tell such an epic story without tilting toward melodramatic, however, this cast threaded that needle beautifully, bringing sincerity to the story even in the many moments of heightened emotion. Kendrell Stiff as Romeo Montague was absolutely captivating from the first moment the lights came up, and his gorgeous voice opened the production with an unexpected pop song from our modern culture. The object of his adoration, Juliet, was played beautifully by Rebecca Piñero, a senior at North Central High School. The two leads together did exceptional work delivering the earnest energy, chemistry, and emotional range this story of young love demands. 

Another standout performance to watch for is Angi Parks as Juliet’s Nurse, a comedic role that had me giggling out loud. (Fun fact: in real-life, Parks is mother to Piñero, who plays Juliet and encouraged her mom to audition for the show! Their scenes together were extra fun to watch knowing this background.) Steve Kruze also stood out to me as a perfect fit for the role of Friar Laurence – I found him so believable as he tried to help the young lovers navigate the impossible while wrestling with conflicting pressures and duties. And I loved the casting of Shelby Myers, a comedic actress, as Romeo’s buddy Mercutio – she was funny, strong, and like the rest of the cast, handled Shakespeare’s complex language beautifully. Kelsey Vanvoorst brought fun energy as she helped anchor the production in the role of “Chorus,” serving as a narrator that moves the action along. She also jumped in to play a few small secondary roles such as a messenger and an apothecary – I found some of those transitions a bit confusing to follow, however, I understood why that choice was made with this relatively small and versatile cast.

Fall in Love with Romeo & Juliet at Civic Theatre
Photo Credit: Zach Rosing

Other big stars of the show were the visual effects, from the gorgeous lighting and set design by Ryan Koharchik, to the costumes by Adrienne Conces, which blended the Shakesperian era with modern styles. I must also mention the sword fighting scenes in the show – these were intense and impressive to watch – kudos to all the work that must have gone into these scenes under the direction of Fight Director Drew Vidal and Assistant Fight Director Jordan Kennedy-Rea. Wow!

“Parting is such sweet sorrow,” but I look forward to coming back to Civic Theatre soon. We are so fortunate to have such a high-caliber theatre scene right here in Central Indiana. Go support live, local theatre, and ENJOY the magical escape of a timeless love story!

This 90-minute, one-act production of Romeo & Juliet is directed by Emily Rogge Tzucker, and runs through February 24 at the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre in The Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, Indiana. Tickets available at civictheatre.org or 317.843.3800.


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