Mill Valley’s Curtain Theatre must not have gotten the memo about Summer Shakespeare al fresco in Marin requiring a production of Twelfth Night. (Two other companies are doing it.) Instead of a comedy, Mill Valley’s Old Mill Park Amphitheatre is the scene of great tragedy as the company presents Romeo & Juliet through Sept. 4.
Two families of similar socioeconomic status live in the city of Verona and can’t stand each other, so much so that they and their associates start knocking off each other. The junior member of each family has the hots for the other, so much so that within hours of meeting they decide to run off and get married.
Complications ensue, and when the lovers turn to a Friar (and unlicensed pharmacist) for assistance, all hell breaks loose. Things really go south when a licensed pharmacist gets involved.
That, dear readers, is the plot in a nutshell, written with the assumption that you already know the story, either by being forced to read it in school or having watched one of the myriad stage, film or television adaptations, whether it be West Side Story, the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli film, the 2006 Baz Luhrmann film or (shudder) Disney’s High School Musical.
Chances are pretty good, though, that you’ve never seen a traditional production which, if you aim to be an R & J completist, you should. Which is where Curtain Theatre comes in.
Since 2000, Curtain Theatre has been presenting free Shakespeare and other classics under the redwoods in Old Mill Park. The shows are well cast, the period costuming is usually quite colorful, and an element of live period music always enhances their shows.
Which is all true with this Steve Beecroft-directed production. Nic Moore and Dale Leonhart lead a very solid cast as the star-crossed lovers. Ramon Villa’s petulant Tybalt and Nelson Brown’s braggadocious Mercutio stir things up nicely. Veteran performer Kim Bromley’s Nurse brings humor and weight to the stage, as does Glenn Havlan as Friar Laurence.
The costuming by Jody Branham looked really good on the nicely designed Steve Coleman set, complete with balcony. The musical work by Don Clark, Hal Hughes, Michelle Delattre and Jo Lusk really enriched the production.
The show runs three hours, which made it challenging for some of the younger set in attendance, but how nice to see the younger set at a show. I suspect they wanted more sword fights.
‘Romeo and Juliet’ runs Saturday and Sunday through Sept. 3, with a special Labor Day Monday performance, at the Old Mill Park Amphitheater, 352 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley. All shows 2pm. Free. Donations graciously accepted. curtaintheatre.org.