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OUT IN THE CROWD: Lionheart Theatre Company to present 'Romeo and Juliet'

A timeless story -- like that of William Shakespeare's ardent Romeo and his fair love, Juliet -- is one that can easily be taken out of its original setting and placed in another, all the while maintaining its effect.

Shakespeare's quintessential ill-fated lovers have been relocated from Italy to America, from the Renaissance period to the 1930s, in Lionheart Theatre's latest production.

"Romeo and Juliet on Verona Street" is Shakespeare's classic story of the tragic, young couple set in Depression-era America. The play was adapted from Shakespeare's original by Michael Carroll and Katy Clarke.

"We both loved 'Romeo and Juliet' and we really wanted to put it in a different setting," said Carroll, who directs the production, while Clarke serves as art director. "We talked about several different time periods and landed on the '30s, which is an interesting time for our nation. Prohibition was just coming to an end and (we were) still into the Great Depression. Also, just the music was very exciting ... so we ended up going with the '30s."

The fictional Verona Street along a waterfront serves as the setting where the longstanding feud between the Capulets, restaurant owners on one side of the street, and the Montagues, who are importers on the other, spills into the public street even as the families are united, by chance, by a secret love between Romeo and Juliet.

"The story and the basic premise of it can still be applied throughout generations and throughout different eras," said Allison Winters, who plays Juliet. "I think some of the best Shakespeare productions I have ever seen have not been in the Shakespearean (setting)."

While the setting for the classic story has changed, Carroll and Clarke have kept the original language for this production.

"We have adapted the text and edited the text but we didn't want to add any words that weren't Shakespeare's," Carroll said.

Producer Tanya Carroll, executive director of Lionheart Theatre Company, said this presentation of Romeo and Juliet's story transcends any barriers set by the antiquated language and the original setting.

"It's very audience-friendly for folks like me who don't often get (the language)," she said. "(The story) gets lost a lot in the dress and the mannerisms in (the original setting). When you watch it here with these people dressed like they are, it's funny. It's a tragedy but it's got a lot of comedy in it, too. They've made it for the average Joe to understand."

Lionheart Theatre Company will present "Romeo and Juliet on Verona Street" at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through March 28 and at 2 p.m. April 3. Admission -- $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and students -- includes a complimentary dessert. For more information, call 678-938-8518 or visit www.lionhearttheatrecompany.org.