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  • Writer's pictureKimberly Laberge

Peak romance with Summit Players

Dinner and a show is good, but camping and a show is even better. While visiting some of Wisconsin's greatest attractions through the gorgeous trails in the area state parks, join the Summit Players atop hills and tucked into valleys for their free performances of Shakespeare's most famed play, Romeo and Juliet.

Summit Players are known for their concise productions of classical theatre paired with lively educational workshops, in order to make the Bard's work accessible and joyful for all. A small cast of actors are constantly running and changing to portray the large companies in the works, but have no fear - these performances are comprehensible for all audiences.

Ryan Zierk and Nadja Simmonds.

Nadja Simmonds brings a youthful energy to her performance as Juliet. Through her, audiences see not the refined, poised Juliet of popular culture, but the excitable teen girl as Shakespeare wrote her. Ryan Zierk, then, provides nice contrast with his even-tempered Romeo. This creates a fascinating dynamic as the two explore what it means to make adult decisions in their fractured society.

Simon Earle, Jackson Hoemann, and Hannah Klapperich-Mueller.

Jackson Hoemann stands out among the small ensemble with impressive range between each of his characters. Hoemann plays Friar Laurence with a delicate quality. Then, he turns that into brashness for Lord Capulet. Benvolio has an entirely new quality - a rough around the edges, "bro" type.

Summit Players Theatre was founded in 2014 and has been performing at WI parks each summer since. However, this season marks the first year the company has selected a tragedy. Summit Executive Director Hannah Klapperich-Miller, accompanied by Managing Director A.J. Magoon, describes some of the precautions taken for this performance: "We're staging the fights in the play in a really clean way, and we're not using any [physical] weaponry, which [makes the performance] an interesting, theatrical thing to watch."

Simon Earle and Jackson Hoemann.

The lack of swords and gore does elevate the battles from their violent core to a more suggestive interpretation. However, as the show progresses, the careful ways in which Summit handles the text prevents the play from reaching as deeply as the script asks. Mourning is brought to a surface level, and murder is made light. Without these key elements, the purpose of the play gets muddled. In aiming for young and fresh audiences, Summit may be better suited to the Bard's comedies.

Jackson Hoemann, Simon Earle, Hannah Klapperich-Mueller, Nadja Simmonds, and Ryan Zierk.

While Shakespeare can seem like a daunting thing for many, Summit Players turns the poetry into frivolity for audiences across the state. Through interactive elements, music, and a breakneck pace, Romeo and Juliet is a delightful evening for all families.

To see Summit Players remaining performance locations and schedule, visit their website at .


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