Strong launch for Pittsfield's 'Romeo' in the park; rainout spurs makeup

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Photo Gallery | Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park presents Romeo and Juliet

PITTSFIELD — Upstaged by Mother Nature, Pittsfield Shakepeare in the Park's production of "Romeo and Juliet" still drew good crowds — and good reviews — for its debut last week.

And organizers have added a show July 29 to make up for the cancellation of Sunday's performance due to severe weather.

About 460 people gathered at the pavilion in The Common on First Street for opening night on Third Thursday, according to organizers. Overall, an estimated 750 outdoor theatergoers watched the two-plus performances on opening weekend.

Saturday's show was halted 30 minutes into the two-act play because of a heavy downpour, and Sunday's show was cancelled due to severe thunderstorms.

"Romeo and Juliet" will resume Thursday through Sunday and will continue July 29 to Aug.2. The curtain goes up at 8 p.m. for all performances.

Pittsfield Shakespeare founder/director Enrico Spada was pleased with the attendance, which already is close to half of the 1,600 for last year's inaugural season of eight performances held at Springside Park.

"Opening on Third Thursday made a difference as people could make a night of it," he said.

Third Thursday, Pittsfield's monthly downtown block party from May through October, runs from 5 - 8 p.m.. making the 8 p.m. show time an ideal extension of the event.

Relocating to The Common and its new pavilion was a hit with many theater patrons, including Lindsay DeWinkeleer, 22, a one-time participant in the Fall Festival of Shakespeare at Taconic High School in Pittsfield.

"I like the set, the way it was incorporated into the sunset," she said. "The sound is good and the [actors'] diction spot on."

Investing in quality microphones for the sound system is crucial for the show, according to Spada.

"Shakespeare is about the language — many go to hear the play, not just see it," he said.

The dialogue is 16th century English prose, but the cast wears 20th century clothing on stage.

"We use the costumes to help the actors define their characters," Spada said.

Shakespeare performed outdoors puts the audience at ease, especially if viewing The Bard's work for the first time. Adults and children can relax in lawn chairs or spread a blanket on the grass to enjoy the show.

"It's nice seeing people of all walks of life and little kids, who may not understand the language but may appreciate [Shakespeare] as they get older," said Tammy Alexander, of Pittsfield.

"It's more open, more shared," added city resident Don Sugarman, who was watching his son Adam play Friar Laurence on the pavilion stage.

Pittsfield's Lenny Kates was pleased to see "Romeo and Juliet" bring back good memories of his younger days.

"For 30 years I watched Shakespeare at Central Park," the New York City native said. "I forgot how good the experience it is outdoors."

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.

If you go ...

What: Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park, "Romeo and Juliet"

When: Thursday - Sunday; July 29 - Aug. 2. All shows start at 8 p.m.

Where: The Common on First Street, Pittsfield

On the Web: www.pittsfieldshakespeare.org


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