Emanuel Kalinsky and Katie Beatty play the star-crossed lovers in 27th Street Theatre Company’s production of Romeo and Juliet

Emanuel Kalinsky and Katie Beatty play the star-crossed lovers in 27th Street Theatre Company’s production of Romeo and Juliet

Story of love and loss is for the ages

W.L. Seaton Secondary's Seaton’s 27th Street Theatre stages Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet with a steampunk esthetic.

W.L. Seaton Secondary’s 27th Street Theatre is gearing up for its final show of this year, Shakespeare’s beloved classic Romeo and Juliet.

Set in the subculture environment of steampunk clockwork, the famous star-crossed lovers are surrounded in visual metaphors, which reflect and support the tragic timing of their story.

“Romeo, played by Emanuel Kalinsky, and Juliet, played by Katie Beatty, truly embody the essence of Shakespeare’s young lovers and it has been an honour to work with them,” said director Lana O’Brien. “The whole company is wonderful These kids have created such a beautiful show.

O’Brien has taught drama for the past 20 years and has led students in more than 40 productions. She cites Romeo and Juliet as among her top five favourite productions in recent years – the other’s being The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, In My Life: A Beatles Musical, Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and this fall’s widely acclaimed Anne of Green Gables.

For Beatty, who is in Grade 11, this version of Shakespeare’s classic is especially notable for its style, inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery.

“It’s been fun and I love how it is set in the steampunk-era style,” she said.

“I am also liking the fact that it is told in the original Shakespearean language,” added Kalinsky,  with the show translated from the page to the stage.

“Tackling Shakespeare’s language was daunting for some of the students at first, but they all went into it wholeheartedly and have mastered the nuances of the beautiful poetry,” said O’Brien.

Not having a stagecraft class this semester has also proved challenging with the massive design concept O’Brien envisioned, so she approached her mentor and long-time friend Dave Brotsky to give her a hand. He designed and built one of the critical set pieces, and mentored O’Brien and her tech-savvy students in a lighting design, which includes four digital “intelligent” lights newly acquired by the 27th Street Theatre Company.

“They are so beautiful and fun to play with. It adds another dimension of professionalism to the students’ stellar performance work,” said O’Brien.

A 30 minute festival version of the show is being showcased at the Goodwill Shakespeare Festival in Summerland this weekend, and when not on stage, the students are taking workshops in drama, film, writing, art and music, focussing on Shakespeare’s work.

“Undoubtedly, the festival will improve the students’ understanding and performance levels of this show even more as they prepare to open the show for the Vernon public,” said O’Brien.

Romeo and Juliet  runs at Seaton’s 27th Street Theatre May 19 to 23 at 7:30 p.m., plus a 2 p.m. matinee May 23. Tickets can be purchased at the Seaton office, or can be reserved by calling 250-542-3361 (ext 2227).  All seats are $12.