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A focus on the feud: AAAA stages 'Romeo and Juliet'

"Romeo and Juliet" opens Friday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m. and runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Sunday, April 30. (Beth Leipholtz | Echo Press)1 / 2
The Shakespearean play "Romeo and Juliet" was adapted for the AAAA by actor Philip Goellner and director Sharon Thalmann. (Beth Leipholtz | Echo Press)2 / 2

One of the most well-known love stories in the world will soon make its debut on the Alexandria Area Arts Association stage.

Friday, April 21, marks opening night for William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," the theater's spring drama. The play is the story of two young, star-crossed lovers whose deaths bring together their feuding families.

The play has been adapted for modern audiences by actor Philip Goellner and director Sharon Thalmann, both of whom also adapted the AAAA's production of "Hamlet" last year.

"What happens mainly when Philip (Goellner) and I work on the adaptation is you first think about the story you want to tell," Thalmann said. "Then that determines what you leave in and what you take out. Shakespeare plays are notorious for being too long for modern audiences and we want to keep it to two hours."

In this adaptation of the play, Goellner and Thalmann chose to focus on the family feud between the Montagues and Capulets. Romeo Montague is played by Jake Stone, and Juliet Capulet is portrayed by Maria Warhol.

"The story that we tell of course is a tragic love story, but it is seen through the filter of the family feud and the conflict and why it turned into a tragedy," Thalmann said.

Though the play has been adapted for modern audiences, the language has not been changed to reflect that.

"We use Shakespeare's language because we want people to challenge themselves," Thalmann said. "We know they can understand it if they just let the poetry take them along."

One large difference between the original play and the adapted version is the pace at which the play moves.

"They spoke very fast in Shakespeare's day because they were used to listening to this kind of language and listening to a play because most people didn't read," Thalmann said. "Modern audiences are not that accustomed to listening to the very, very quick banter and so we don't do it that fast so people can keep up with us."

Though people sometimes draw conclusions about a play when they hear it is by Shakespeare, Thalmann says this is because they have only read his plays, not seen them.

"We think 'Oh, not Shakespeare,' because we've only read it," Thalmann said. "Shakespeare was never meant to be read. It was meant to be seen. So once you see the story before you, it's much easier to understand, and it takes you along on a wonderful adventure."

Regardless of whether or not audience members have an appreciation for Shakespeare, Thalmann says there is something in the play for everyone.

"Even if you don't think you like Shakespeare, I think the sword fights and the love story and the beautiful costumes and set and compelling story will appeal to everyone," she said.

Spring Drama: Romeo and Juliet

When: Friday, April 21 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 22 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, April 23 at 2 p.m., Friday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 29 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 30 at 2 p.m.

Where: The Alexandria Area Arts Association

Cost: $18 Adults, $15 Students/Seniors, $15 Members,

$15 Group. To buy tickets, stop in at the box office or visit

For more information, call the AAAA box office at (320) 762-8300 or email

Cast list:

Zach Conover

Philip Goellner

Joe Johnson

Jake Stone

Megan Behrens

Al Alvig

Krista Monson

Leah Drexler

Meagen Lindberg

Jon Provance

Scott Giannone

Quincy Roers

Randy Martin

Jamie Sandberg

Maria Warhol

Caroline Petefish

Hannah Kroll

Katy Niemeyer

Karmen Lemm

Chuck Grussing

Alex Randazzo

Kevin Lee

John Thalmann

Ahndree Brown

Sarah Biver

Eden Nesburg

Destinie Sabby

Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.

(320) 763-1233