With the New Orleans Museum of Art as its backdrop, the NOLA Project has created a successful production of William Shakespeare’s tragic romance, Romeo and Juliet. The talented cast of 20 local actors delivers a captivating show that is well choreographed, vibrant, and even resourceful with few props but plenty of imagination.
The majestic columns and setting of NOMA’s Great Hall complement the high-energy cast to provide an interactive, yet intimate experience for the audience. While most viewers of the play are already familiar with the classic tale, the museum’s grand room serves the role of an extra character with its versatility and is inventively transformed with each scene.
The grand staircase works well to create the Capulets’ regal engagement at their home, the second story veranda appropriately functions as Juliet’s balcony, well-choreographed fights set the tone for the streets of Verona, and a platform with lit candles creates the illusion of the Capulets’ mausoleum for the two star-crossed lovers’ untimely death. Using the historic, open space to their advantage, the actors’ ingenuity, talent, and choreography set the stage and tell the story effectively.
The talented thespians portray their characters well, as evidenced by their strategic direction and experience. And while remaining in character, the cast members consistently enchant and entertain through dynamic interactions. Alex Martinez Wallace and Kristen Witterchein, who play Romeo and Juliet respectively, accurately portray teen angst and desperation, and A.J Allegra provides comic relief with his portrayal of the witty and flamboyant Mercutio.
Members of the NOLA Project, now in its sixth year, use their talent, wit, and resources well to put on an entertaining performance. The company delivers the classic piece accurately, but includes a few surprises and twists to make it their own. Through their evident ingenuity, the NOLA Project is following through with achieving its mission to create a nationally renowned art scene as “one of the standard bearers of New Orleans’ artistic renaissance.”
Romeo and Juliet is presented by The NOLA Project and plays in the New Orleans Museum of Art‘s Great Hall December 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18 at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $24 general admission; $12 NOMA members; $12 students (standing room only).