A compact 'Romeo and Juliet' in Sarasota

October 3, 2013 

Kristen Lynne Blossom and Ben Williamson star in the New Stages Tour of an FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training Production of "Romeo & Juliet." Daniel Kelly/PUBLICITY PHOTO

Almost any time you see Shakespeare, it's abridged.

Apparently, audiences 400 years ago were more eager for five-hour plays than we are.

Still, paring "Romeo and Juliet" to a 45-minute one-act for young audiences, and giving them an authentic Shakespearean experience, seems impossible. But Dmitry Troyanovsky said he and Lauryn Sasso have pulled it off.

"You start by narrowing your focus," Troyanovsky said. "You concentrate on the parts of the play that your audience will most relate to. The hope is that it will give them a taste of Shakespeare so they'll go and seek out more."

Local audiences can see the result when the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training offers two stagings of "Romeo and Juliet" Thursday.

In their adaptation, Troyanovsky, who teaches at Tulane University, and Sasso, literary manager and dramaturg for Asolo Repertory Theatre, have reduced subplots and characters, and zoomed in on the conflicts and choices faced by Romeo and Juliet. They've left a lot of the younger characters in, but edited out some of the adults.

"Of course, you have to have Friar Laurence, you have to have the Nurse," Troyanovsky said. "You don't have to have the Prince of Verona."

Shakespeare's language has not been altered.

After its Sarasota staging, "Romeo and Juliet" will tour Florida, mostly to high schools and colleges, as part of Asolo's New Stages tour. There will actually be two touring companies, called Team Montague and Team Capulet, made up of students in their final year at the FSU/Asolo Conservatory. Each cast will perform one of the Sarasota shows.

A cocktail reception at 7 p.m., between the two performances, is included in the ticket price.

Details: 6 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Cook Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $25. Information: 941-351-8000, www.asolorep.org.

-- Marty Clear

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