Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park to stage "Romeo and Juliet" at The Common

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Photo Gallery | Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park 2015

PITTSFIELD >> The Capulets and Montagues will bring their feud to downtown Pittsfield this summer.

Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park on Tuesday announced plans to stage "Romeo and Juliet" at the newly built pavilion of the The Common on First Street.

Following a successful inaugural 2014 season, Pittsfield Shakespeare, jointly with the city's Office of Community Development, is expanding its schedule to 12 nightly shows over three, four-day weekend stretches from July 16 through Aug. 2.

Last year, the collaboration produced eight performances of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" viewed by more than 1,500 people at Springside Park, just off upper North Street, according to organizers.

Pittsfield Cultural Development Director Jen Glockner believes relocating the midsummer event downtown could boost attendance by making it a more walkable event.

"The vision for The Common was to do what we're trying to do — bring the art and cultural expansion to the park," she said.

Enrico Spada, the founder and director of Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park, said the four additional shows are, in part, taking into account rainouts.

"We really watched closely the weather right up to showtime [last year,]" he said. "I have four different [weather] apps on my phone."

Unveiled last March, Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park is the city's latest theatrical program designed to bring the performing arts to a wider audience.

Last summer's production helped Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi overcome the misconceptions he had of the Bard's works.

"It wasn't until Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park did I realize how much fun Shakespeare can be ... and how relevant he is today in the 21st century," the mayor said during Tuesday's press conference at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts.

Spada added, "People who came and watched multiple nights [last summer], got to know ["A Midsummer Night's Dream"] better and let it wash over them."

Spada, who has taught, acted and directed for the past nine years at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, will hold auditions late next week looking to cast 13- to 21-year-olds in the play's major roles. He noted the cast will be augmented by several professional actors.

Halfway through the press briefing, Shakespearean thespians David Joseph and Annie Considine surprised the small gathering with their rendition of the famous balcony scene. They improvised the setting with Joseph running toward a podium where Considine stood, waiting for Romeo to call out to her.

The surprise performance was an example of what the audience can expect from the community-based production, supported with major funding from the Berkshire Bank Foundation.

"Bringing together the community by providing theater to people who otherwise might not see it [is important to us,]" said foundation Director Lori Gazzillo.

Additional financial backing comes from the Feigenbaum Foundation, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Lenox Cultural Council, several businesses, the city and an upcoming Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.

CASTING CALL ...

What: Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park auditions for summer production of "Romeo and Juliet"

When: Feb. 20, 6 to 10 p.m.; Feb 22, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, 28 Renne Ave. Pittsfield. The center is off Fenn Street behind the First Untied Methodist Church.

Who: Local actors and students ages 14 and up are encouraged to try out; all roles are open to all experience levels.

Information: pittsfieldshakespeare.org/auditions or email enrico@pittsfieldshakespeare.org


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