Bryan GallegosFree Press Correspondent

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October 18, 2012
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'Romeo and Juliet' vs. zombies, a performance with a twist

The Capulets and Montagues fighting side by side for a common cause?Yup. But make no mistake about, they still hate each other, just like William Shakespeare wanted.The Capulets and Montagues will be making their stage appearance in Grand Junction High School Theater Department's rendition of "Romeo and Juliet" on Oct. 25-27.But there's going to be something unusual about the Tiger Thespians' take of the timeless love story. It'll be like "The Walking Dead" meets Mr. Shakespeare."It's going to be different," said Alex Wanebo, a 15-year-old homeschooler who will play the role of Juliet. "But this is so much fun."Thou art different? How?Well, for one, the play is set in post-apocalyptic time ... a time where an unknown catastrophic event has turned many people into zombies. And those zombies - an ensemble of roughly 60 students - are driven to seek human flesh anytime there is chaos.And of course, when you bring the Capulets and the Montagues together, it's like putting Rikki-Tikki-Tavi in with the King Cobra. Their animosity toward each other just does not give peace a chance."They hate each other enough to risk the wrath of the zombies," said Ellie Gossage, who plays Lady Capulet.So, while the Capulets and Montagues fight with each other, they must also band together to fight off the zombies."Kind of a neat twist," said Hunter Whaley, who plays Mercutio, Romeo's best friend who pushes the young lover into the arms of Juliet. "It's fresh. It makes it more watchable."While most of the action takes place on the stage at Grand Junction High School, the entire auditorium is used to engage the audience into the story. Zombies come from all corners of the auditorium to attack.So, here's a word to the audience. Be afraid. Be very afraid, because you may be sitting next to a zombie."It breaks down the Fourth Wall," said Gossage. "There's no separation between actors and the audience."One thing that will not change, however, is the poetic words penned by Shakespeare. And the story line will remain the same that has been told and retold over the past several centuries."There's going to be people who are up in arms because of our interpretation. You always take that risk when you have a different interpretation," said Whaley. "But we're not changing the poetry. We're just making it more intense."Shawn Clingman, director of theater at Grand Junction High School, came up with the idea to incorporate zombies for a couple of reasons.He wanted to include as many students in the production as he could. Mission accomplished. The cast consists of nearly 75 students.And the zombies fit perfectly with Halloween, he said, adding that the zombie-themed productions such as "Day of the Living Dead" and "The Walking Dead" are popular these days.And the Tiger Thespians enjoyed a great deal of success with the zombie-themed performance at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, Utah, last year. They performed a 10-minute scene of "Romeo and Juliet" post-apocalyptic time."The judges loved it," Clingman said. "And every kid who saw that scene loved it. And even those who didn't see it were talking about it and talking about our kids. We were rock stars."It worked there and Clingman is confident it will work here.The shows will take place at 7 p.m. each night. A matinee will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27.The price of admission for advance tickets is $5 for students and seniors and $8 for adults if purchased by Oct. 25. Tickets after that will be $8 for students and seniors and $10 for adults.Advanced tickets can be purchased at the main office at Grand Junction High School from 10:40-11:30 a.m. or from any Tiger Thespian. You can also call Clingman at 970-201-4169 to reserve tickets.

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The Post Independent Updated Oct 18, 2012 03:50PM Published Oct 18, 2012 03:48PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.