Students perform 'Romeo and Juliet'

Posted 3/3/15

Amidst a chaotic world, two young lovers from opposing sides find hope in each other until the inevitable tragic conclusion shakes up everyone around them.

William Shakespeare's "Romeo and …

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Students perform 'Romeo and Juliet'


Amidst a chaotic world, two young lovers from opposing sides find hope in each other until the inevitable tragic conclusion shakes up everyone around them.

William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," produced by the Port Townsend School District’s OCEAN program, opens Friday, March 6, and runs for two weekends.

The bard's tragedy is directed by local theater professionals (and OCEAN parents) Marc Weinblatt and Rowen DeLuna.

“I love this play and have wanted to direct it for years,” Weinblatt said. This is the fifth collaboration between the two.

"People who say they hate Shakespeare haven't seen it nailed," Weinblatt said. "You have to nail it ... My challenge has been to direct it in a way that I love it."

From the first moment Romeo and Juliet lay eyes on each other, Weinblatt said, the audience has to feel their chemistry. In order to care about the rest of the play, he said, "you've got to be rooting for them ... they capture what everyone wants in the first moment."

“It’s thrilling and daunting to play such a famous character,” said Keira DeLuna, 16, who plays Juliet. “People have an idea of who Juliet is supposed to be. I’m excited to do it in a fresh way that people might not expect.” The play also features original music written and performed by Keira DeLuna.

The production of “Romeo and Juliet” stays true to the text, focusing on the power of the language.

Shakespeare's language is poetry; its meaning is clear "if [the actors] really nail it," Weinblatt said. He acknowledged that the student actors "are basically having to learn a new language" as they learn their lines. "Once they wrap around it, it makes total sense" to them and the audience.

“I love Shakespeare,” said Noah Phillips, 16, who plays Romeo. “I love the language and immediately have a clear impulse of how to play a scene.”

Phillips and DeLuna are dating offstage, as well.

"Our Romeo and Juliet are dating, and their chemistry is sizzling," Weinblatt said. "It was definitely a calculated risk," he said, but "we know those kids really well. They're really grounded."

The cast also features Thomas Kuykendall, 18, as Mercutio, Orion Weinblatt Dey, 13, as Benvolio; Alex Kuykendall, 16, as Tybalt; Sadie Palatnik, 16, as Lady Capulet; Thierry Williamson, 17, as Lord Capulet; Mimi Molotsky, 14, as Nurse; Austin Krieg, 16, as Friar Lawrence; and Hunter Newton, 15, as Paris. Tanner DeLuna, 17, plays the Governor (Shakespeare’s “Prince”), serves as assistant director and designs hair and makeup for the production.

Also playing multiple roles are Blu DeLuna, Zinnia Hansen, Reece Kjeldgaard, Dylan Tracer, Max Doray, Dante Deane, Salvera Deane, Cyra Hettle, Zoey Doray and Dylan Peterson.

The OCEAN production is two and a half hours long with intermission. "We've done major cutting," Weinblatt said, but done justice to the text. "It will feel like the full 'Romeo and Juliet.'"

This production is set in a dystopian, post-modern Verona, a town ravaged by civil war, reminiscent of cities like Kabul, Afghanistan or Mogadishu, Somalia, with streets reduced to rubble by the fighting of power-hungry warlords.

Stage combat is choreographed by Nathan Barnett, assisted by Sam Cavallaro.

"Nathan is such a stunning teacher and skilled combat artist, and great with kids," Weinblatt said.

OCEAN teacher Liz Quayle leads the tech team behind the scenes – a group of students plus parent volunteers including local artist and actor parent Lisa Doray. “Our set, representing a dystopian near-future, incorporates wood scraps, fabric, old tires, and other found objects," Quayle said.

Like an “indoor Shakespeare-in-the-Park,” most seating is on the Mountain View Commons gym floor. People are encouraged to bring their own blankets, pillows, and floor-level back support. Some standard chairs plus some bleacher seating will be available for those who need them. This full-length production is appropriate for anyone over age 5, though stage combat scenes and death scenes might be intense for very young children.

OCEAN (Opportunity, Community, Experience, Academics, Navigation) is an independent study, contract-based program for students in grade K-12.

This project is in collaboration with the Mandala Center for Change and is supported by the Port Townsend Arts Commission and the Jefferson County YMCA. All proceeds benefit the OCEAN Program. For more info, contact 360-344-3435 or or visit


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