Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13



THEATER 'R & J' puts a female, queer spin on Shakespeare
by Brian Kirst

This article shared 13607 times since Tue Mar 5, 2024
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Romeo and Juliet is the theatrical gift that keeps on giving.

It's been reworked for the masses numerous times, whether in direct adaptations or musicals such as West Side Story. Shakespeare's plotline points have even inspired General Hospital's current head writers. There, polished and privileged ingénue Joss is being kept, via fate and her Mafioso stepfather, from a soft-whiskered soldier of fortune named Dex.

There have been numerous reworkings of the story catered towards gay men as well. In fact, playwright Joe Calarco's Shakespeare's R & J, a popular reimagining of the tale, was originally conceived with a male-on-male focus. Nicely, Amber Mandley, the director of Pride Arts' current production of the piece, has cast the show with a more queerly feminine intent. Her setting is a private girl's academy in the mid-'70s.

The familiar plot is nicely augmented by this choice. Overwhelmed by traditional and patriarchal teachings, four students venture into the institution's attic one moon-glossed evening. Soon their playful study of Romeo and Juliet turns into a passionate reenacting of the piece.

As each character takes on multiple roles, secrets about their true selves and their relationships with each other are revealed. But when one budding scholar identifies too closely with the tale of the star crossed lovers, will the others support or reject this newfound Sapphic discovery?

As a playwright, Calarco smartly re-conceptualizes and edits out portions of Shakespeare's original text but the familiar story and classic language is still intact. Nicely, this also centers characters that sometimes get lost in more traditional productions. In particular, Juliet's mother emerges in clearer strands here. Her adamancy about social standing and protocol rings with specificity throughout the journey. Thus, the division between Romeo and Juliet and the war between their families wrings with clearer potency here.

Meanwhile, Mandley, along with assistant directors Elissa Wolf & Magdiel Carmona, finds thoughtful ways to poetically signify the violence and mayhem of the piece. Tybalt and Mercutio's deaths are rendered via undulations of a red sheet while the main duo's fates are dealt with in a similarly metaphorical way. Additionally, Shawn Quinlan's costumes help the performers give life to the characters, perfectly reflecting the atmosphere that Mandley creates.

The cast also deserves significant credit for this particular rendering's success. Their way with the familiar speeches is subtle and inventive, adding layers and newfound delights to the experience. Singularly, Luz Espinoza's Juliet excels with a haughty feminism. Isabel Lee Roden brings both comic energy and unabashed fury to the Nurse.

Hannah Eisendrath, meanwhile, is the evening's funniest force, bringing a quirky elegance to all the characters she embodies. But Saturday evening's (March 2) true surprise was Ava Pirie. Seemingly asked to understudy with little notice, she brought a true and flawless beauty to her Romeo, proving why theater is often a place of magic and rare excitement.

As a whole, this lovingly rendered show nicely echoes that sentiment as well.

Shakespeare's R & J runs through March 24th at Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway. Further information is available at .

This article shared 13607 times since Tue Mar 5, 2024
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By


Gay News

The importance of becoming Ernest: Out actor Christopher Sieber dishes about the Death Becomes Her musical
Out and proud actor Christopher Sieber is part of the team bringing Death Becomes Her to life as a stage musical in the Windy City this spring. Sieber plays Ernest Menville, who was originally portrayed by ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Celine Dion, 'The People's Joker,' Billy Porter, Patti LuPone, 'Strange Way'
I Am: Celine Dion will stream on Prime Video starting June 25, according to a press release. The film is described as follows: "Directed by Academy Award nominee Irene Taylor, I Am: Celine Dion gives us ...

Gay News

Kokandy Productions now accepting submissions for Chicago Musical Theater Fest returning Aug. 8-11
--From a press release - CHICAGO (April 18, 2024) — Kokandy Productions is pleased to open submissions for the 2024 Chicago Musical Theatre Festival, returning this summer following a four-year hiatus. Kokandy is thrilled to ...

Gay News

THEATER Blue in the Right Way's 'Women Beware Women' offers feminist, trans take on a troubling Jacobean tragedy
"Problematic" is a great go-to adjective to describe Women Beware Women. This 1621 Jacobean tragedy is by English playwright Thomas Middleton, who is probably best remembered as a collaborator with William Shakespeare on their pessimistic tragedy ...

Gay News

City Council passes Lesbian Visibility Week proclamation
Chicago alderwomen Maria Hadden (49th) and Jessie Fuentes (26th) introduced a resolution at Chicago's April 17 City Council meeting to declare April 22-28 as Lesbian Visibility Week in Chicago. This is part of a nationwide effort ...

Gay News

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago announces programs for May 17-19 season finale
--From a press release - CHICAGO — Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC) announced program selections for Spring Series: Of Joy, the final installment of Season 46, Abundance. The engagement will include four unique works, once ...

Gay News

'United, Not Uniform': Lesbian Visibility Week starts April 22 nationwide
--From a press release - San Francisco — Lesbian Visibility Week (#LVW24) kicks off on Monday, April 22 with a private event at the London Stock Exchange USA headquarters in New York City. This exclusive gathering marks the beginning of a ...

Gay News

Brittney Griner, wife expecting first baby
Brittney Griner is expecting her first child with wife Cherelle Griner. According to NBC News, the couple announced on Instagram that they are expecting their baby in July. "Can't believe we're less than three months away ...

Gay News

LGBTQ+ film fest Queer Expression to feature Alexandra Billings in 'Queen Tut'
--From a press release - CHICAGO — Pride Film Fest celebrates its second decade with a new name—QUEER EXPRESSION—and has announced its slate of LGBTQ+-themed feature, mid-length and short films for in-person and virtual events in April and May. QUEER EXPRESSI ...

Gay News

Lesbian prime minister steps down
Ana Brnabic—the first woman and the first lesbian to hold the office of prime minister of Serbia, or to be a leader of any Eastern European country—has stepped down after seven years in power, in a ...

Gay News

Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame seeks nominations for 2024 induction
--From a press release - The Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame has announced a call for nominations for the 2024 class of inductees into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame. Those wishing to may nominate individuals, organizations, businesses, or "Friends of ...

Gay News

HRC president responds to NAIA vote to ban transgender women from playing sports
--From a press release - WASHINGTON —Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, responded to the National Association of ...

Gay News

Open Space Arts's COCK offers a complex but compelling take on relationships
By Brian Kirst - Premiering in 2009, Mike Bartlett's COCK was a comic revelation, exploring notions about fluidity and sexual labelling long before they became commonplace discussions. Granted, conversations about these issues will always ...

Gay News

Jeff Awards launches submission period for Impact Awards
The Jeff Awards announced the opening period for applications submissions for its 2024 honors to help inspire early career artists of color in the Greater Chicagoland area. Two recipients will be selected for awards of $10,000 ...

Gay News

Ella Matthes, award-winning publisher, editor of Lesbian News Magazine, dies at 81
--From an ILDKMedia press release - Los Angeles, CA - Ella Matthes, longtime publisher and editor of Lesbian News Magazine, passed away from a heart attack on March 16, 2024 at The Little Company of Mary hospital in Norwalk, California. She was ...


Copyright © 2024 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.