Virginia Shakespeare Festival debuts “Romeo and Juliet” with a twist

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William & Mary alumna Brittany Liu stars as Juliet alongside Tamara Johnson as her Nurse. (Courtesy Geoff Wade)
William & Mary alumna Brittany Liu stars as Juliet alongside Tamara Johnson as her Nurse. (Courtesy Geoff Wade)

Virginia Shakespeare Festival is raising the curtain next week on one of the Bard’s most enduringly popular tales, “Romeo and Juliet.”

The latest run of the tragic romance begins June 29 at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall. Director Christopher Owens describes the show as “for the first two acts, perhaps the best comedy [Shakespeare] wrote and for the next three, the best tragedy,” according to a recent press release from VSF.

Though Owens has directed productions of Romeo and Juliet before, this one will feature its own unique twist: economic disparity takes center stage as the Capulets “revel in their wealth while the Montagues are just trying to get by,” the release went on to say.

Mateo Mpinduzi-Mott and Brittany Liu star as the titular star-crossed lovers. They are joined by Lukas Weichert as Paris, Robery Ierardi as Lord Capulet and Tamara Johnson as Nurse.

As with any action-heavy stage production, finding the right actors is just half the battle. Fight director Joseph Travers “has the actors on their toes to the tune of intricate and interesting fights” throughout the show, the release said, and choreographer Denise Wade “keeps things lively with her dances.”

The show, which is the first of three VSF offerings this summer, opens June 29 and runs Wednesday through Sunday until closing on July 10. Click here for ticket information.