By Cari Lynn Pace
Shakespeare in Mill Valley’s Old Mill Park means late summer has truly arrived.
Hidden in this majestic redwood grove is The Curtain Theatre, showcasing award-winning plays complete with renaissance music, dancing, and lots of swordfights. You won’t want to let another weekend go by without seeing Romeo and Juliet, this year’s stunning production.
Actors surround the audience, dashing on and off the impressive set by Steve Coleman, in dazzling period costumes by Jody Branham. The grove fills with the sounds of flute, concertina, mandolin, and more under the direction of Don Clark. Even the band is in costume!
“Verona, a city on the verge of anarchy…”
Director Steve Beecroft, the talented impresario of The Curtain Theatre, has been at the company’s helm since 2009. In addition to doing the choreography and swordfight scenes, and lending his acting chops, Beecroft spent nine months dissecting and reconnecting Shakespeare’s classic. He was intrigued by the interrelationships between the characters in Verona, a city he portrays as on the verge of anarchy.
“Hatred and violence between the two houses of Montague and Capulet created a toxic cloud that overshadowed all good,” Beecroft noted.
Into this pressure cooker step the lovely Juliet, brought to life by Dale Leonheart, and handsome Romeo, portrayed by Nic Moore. Their passion is real. Juliet’s balcony is real. The swords are also real.
In his day, Shakespeare was required to cast males in female roles. In an ironic twist, this Romeo and Juliet has several females in male roles. Heather Cherry, a versatile actor and company member, is royally powerful as Prince Escalus. Alexandra Fry plays sidekick Balthasar, with Grace Kent as Benvolio/Benvolia.
Also well-cast is popular local Kim Bromley in the demanding role of Juliet’s nurse, played with just the right touch of humor. Nelson Brown, another local favorite, gives Mercutio, one of Romeo’s closest friends and a blood relative to Prince Escalus and Count Paris, a lovable, albeit brief, appearance.
Romeo’s parents portrayed by Marianne Shine and Tom Reilly fill their roles well. Amy Dietz, a true talent, brought tears to my eyes as a distraught Lady Capulet mourning her nephew Tybalt (Ramon Villa). Many other actors admirably fill out this full-stage production.
The remarkable aspect to this professional production is the performances are FREE of charge. Donations, of course, are welcome. And — to be perfectly candid — necessary, if The Curtain Theatre is to continue despite the costs of each presentation.
All ages are welcome to attend these open-air and open-seating shows. Parents bring young ones for their first exposure to Shakespeare, and most are enthralled by the pageantry and swordfights. Picnics abound, with a few tables not far from the stage area. A small snack bar is available. Plastic chairs are set up by the company on a first-come basis. Bring your own for lounging behind the Mill Valley Library. Dogs on leash are encouraged to watch the show.
Romeo and Juliet plays at 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and on Labor Day, Monday September 4th, 2023. The hottest summer afternoons can become quite cool in the grove, so bring layers.
ASR Writer & Editor Cari Lynn Pace is a voting member of SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle and writes theatre and lifestyle reviews for the Marinscope Community Newspapers throughout Marin County. Contact: email@example.com
|Production||Romeo and Juliet|
|Written by||William Shakespeare|
|Directed by||Steve Beecroft|
|Producing Company||Curtain Theatre|
|Production Dates||Saturdays/Sundays and Labor Day Monday at 2 PM through September 4th|
|Production Address||Old Mill Park Amphitheater.
375 Throckmorton Avenue (behind the library), Mill Valley
|Reviewer Score||Max in each category is 5/5|
|Aisle Seat Review PICK?||Yea, Verily!|