"Romeo and Juliet" opens tonight at Reitz Theater

Some of the cast of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ which will open the Reitz Theater 2018 season. Pictured from left are Bob Spence – Lord Montague; Tom Hibbert, III – Romeo Montague; Misti Bruner (Reigel-Quick) – Juliet Capulet; Kaylee Santell – Petrucchio; David Phillips – Friar Laurence; and Hannah Allen – Lady Capulet.

DuBOIS — If you’ve seen the posters advertising Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ at the Reitz Theater as a “tragic comedy” you may have thought it was not the same play often taught in high school.

Director Mary Beth Geppert isn’t putting a new spin on an old classic.

As a Shakespearean scholar and someone who taught Shakespeare in London and Stratford on Avon, England for five years, she is actually returning the mood and pace of the story of the two star crossed lovers to the way it was staged in the Bard’s time. While the story has an unhappy ending, according to Geppert, “the play is quite funny for a tragedy” with a lot of silliness and bawdiness along the way.

Elements Geppert says are downplayed in most productions of “Romeo and Juliet.” While the story is ages old, the setting in the Reitz Theater’s production is relatively contemporary. It’s set in 1958 making it more accessible and relatable to some audience members, and in step with the restored pace of the play.

Misti Bruner (Reigel Quick) is cast as Juliet and Tom Hibbert III as Romeo. Geppert said she has two talented actors who capture the fervor, eagerness, and angst of young love. With the strong emphasis in bringing out the original comedic aspects of the play, Geppert is especially happy to have Gene Deible, one of the original founders of the Reitz Theater in the hilarious role of Juliet’s wet nurse, with David Reitz as her side kick, Peter. Other cast members include Tyson Titler, Marshall Powers, Maria Werner, Tim Weidow, Hannah Allen, Bob Spence, Alyssa Wood, Andrew Benson, David Phillips, Brady Haines and Kaylee Santell.

Geppert heads the production team with Darla Brunquell and Lisa Rutherford serving as assistant directors. Brianna Webber is the stage manager, Gene Deible also designed the set and along with Brian Shaffer designed the lighting. Nicki Gutowski is the costume designer. Fight choreography by Thomas J. Evans IV and Timothy Weidow. Deborah Whitaker is board liaison for Cultural Resources, Inc., the parent entity of the Reitz Theater.

Performances at the Reitz Theater, Scribner Avenue in DuBois are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9; Saturday, Feb. 10; Thursday, Feb. 15; Friday, Feb. 16; Saturday, Feb. 17; and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 11.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.reitztheater.com, or Thursdays at the theater box office between 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Tickets are $10, with 10 percent of all ticket sales being donated to the Clearfield Jefferson Suicide Prevention Team. The team will present a post show talk on suicide prevention following the Sunday, Feb. 11 production.

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