Dig Baton Rouge

Wherefore Art Thou?

By Claire Salinas

A condensed 90-minute version of “Romeo and Juliet” will take the stage at LSU’s Reilly Theatre, and director George Judy believes it will give people “that sort of breathlessness that combines with the beauty of the language.”

Though the Reilly Theatre rests in the heart of campus, Judy said college and post-college crowds alike can relate to the play.

“The young people will like the first love theme and the stress of that and older audience members will remember their first love and what it costs to have real relationship,” Judy said.

Judy believes the play also addresses some deeper issues relevant to many local audiences, such as rebellion within communities, gang warfare and how love can transcend and unite a community.

“The young people will like the first love theme and the stress of that and older audience members will remember their first love and what it costs to have real relationship.” – George Judy

As head of LSU’S Master of Fine Arts acting program, Judy chose the Shakespearean classic based on the individual skills of his student actors.

Amar Atkinson, an actor from Atlanta and one of the youngest in the company, won the role of Romeo based on his “youth and charm.”

“He’s done a really great job getting ready physically, emotionally and imaginatively for the play,” Judy said.

Juliet is played by Amanda Clark, a Colorado actress in her final year in the M.F.A. program and a “tremendous” fan of Shakespeare.

“[Amanda] brings an innocence to the role and combines it with a sensual young woman who is becoming less a child and more a woman right before our eyes,” Judy said.

For Clark, playing Juliet has realized a lifelong dream of hers

“Juliet has been on my bucket list for a long time for two reasons. First the language is so beautiful that if you’re a Shakespeare nerd like me, it’s exciting to get to speak her words. Juliet is incredibly smart, she gets a reputation of being a flighty teenager, which couldn’t be further from the truth,” Clark said. “Also, one of my favorite movies growing up was Romeo and Juliet, so I basically get live out my little girl fantasy.”

R&J Nurse & Juliet

Due to the small cast of M.F.A. students, a few actors will pull double-duty — a chance to show off their range.

“We have a much smaller cast than usual, about 14 actors,” said Judy. “Several of the actors are playing several roles. The actor who plays Tybalt, who is known as the villain of the story, also plays Paris, who is a softer, sweeter character. It’s wonderful for the professional actors to be able to play a double role like that.”

Clark believes the audience has a lot to look forward to in the special, shortened production.

“I think I’m excited to have people see how we have condensed the play. George has done a great job of getting a shorter 90-minute version together, which is great for the audience,” Clark said. “Also I think many of us read the play in high school and have a vague idea of what happens in the play, but to see the story unfold again, is exciting and is a reminder of how remarkable Shakespeare’s writing is.”

Tickets for the show are $10 a person because Judy and the cast hope to “keep access high and ticket prices low.”

Snag a ticket at and sit back for a night of star-crossed romance Jan. 16 or 17 at 7:30 p. m. at The Reilly Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at the LSU Theatre Box Office or by calling 225-578-3527.

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