|Friar and Romeo and Juliet|
Romeo and Juliet is being produced by the Lantern Theater Company at 10th and Ludlow Streets, Philadelphia, through April 1, 2012. No area theater does a better job of presenting Shakespeare’s plays and this play does nothing to spoil that reputation. Nicole Erb makes her Lantern debut as Juliet. She brings her TV, film and previous theater experience to the role of the young teen who is both giddy in love and passionately angry when she feels thwarted in her attempts to have her own way. The breadth of her emotions is a thrill to watch. Also expressing great depths of character are Frank X as Friar Lawrence and Ceal Phelan portraying both Juliet’s nurse and Romeo’s father. Leonard C Haas as Lord Capulet gets very volatile onstage and the audience almost cringes in their seats as he rants, so effective are his diatribes. The set is a true work of art thanks to scenic designer Meghan Jones. Not only does it include the requisite balcony for Romeo and Juliet’s well known scene, but an entire castle is built up on the stage with many entrances, exits, arches and stairs. Actors are frequently running on or off the stage only to reappear a few minutes later in an entirely different spot. A huge courtyard is the scene for more than one sword fight, artfully staged by fight director Alex Cordaro. Costumes genuine to the time period were artfully designed by Mary Folino. Lighting Designer Shelly Hicklin deserves a Barrymore nomination for the outstanding way in which day turns to night through the windows; chandeliers are raised and lowered in the castle to adjust the lighting; and total blackouts are used for scene changes to allow actors to exit the stage unnoticed. Shakespeare is not always easy to read. It is, however, easy to love if you attend a production at the Lantern Theater Company. For tickets or more information, call 215-829-0395 or visit online at www.lanterntheater.org.