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HLWW graduate performs, produces ‘Romeo and Juliet’

March 31, 2008

Mike Kelley works to bring the classic play to a modern Twin Cities stage

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Mike Kelley, a 2001 Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted graduate and producer at 3AM Productions of Minneapolis, welcomes the community to attend his version of “Romeo and Juliet” in the Twin Cities.

Based on the original William Shakespeare comedy, Kelley, who plays Romeo in the production, as well, adds a modern feel to the classic play.

Audience members will get the message of how hate can destroy love, such as in Romeo and Juliet’s love story.

3AM Productions’ version of “Romeo and Juliet” focuses on a city that has fallen into disrepair through aggression, civil inattention of its people, and a thirst to have and wield as much power as blood can buy, according to the press release.

Out of this, two people have risen above the strife, taking a stand through peace and love.

“There is a powerful, good cast,” Kelley said, including two local cast members, Dave and Linda Metcalf.

Linda will be playing the role of the nurse, while Dave plays Friar Laurence.

For years, Kelley performed under the direction of Dave Metcalf, while attending HLWW High School.

Now, with Kelley a co-producer, Metcalf is somewhat under his direction.

Most recently, Kelley played Brother Francis, a traveling Evangelist in “The Ice Fishing Play,” the community theatre production that took place in December and January.

“It’s fun to have to the switch and to be working with him as a fellow cast member instead of as a director,” Metcalf said.

“I’ve been doing [theatre] 11 years now and it all started in the HL/DC area,” Kelley,

This is his third play under 3AM Productions, others include “Love and War” and “Fischer Price.”

Pre-production began in September, Kelley said. At that time, he found two directors, then went through the original version, cutting some of it, while adding new elements.

One addition, for example, is the increased involvement of a narrator, or chorus person, as Kelley calls it.

This person only had a short role in the original version; in Kelley’s version, the chorus person is involved throughout. Now, it’s almost a main character, Kelley said.

“[The chorus] acts as a liaison between the audience and the story,” Kelley said.

“It helps bring the message of the play to everyone at the end,” he added.

Other minor changes include eliminating Juliet’s parents’ roles and replacing them with a brother, instead.

Also, the hot-headed Tybalt went from being a male in the original version, to a feisty female in Kelley’s.

“It brought something new to the show,” he said.

The play also offers a non-traditional cast. The actors are strong, but they take on a different look.

“They could be anyone in our lives,” Kelley said, explaining he is not the traditional actor to play Romeo.

“I love Shakespeare, but I think a lot of people fear [him] because there are words we don’t use anymore,” Kelley said.

“But, if it’s said by actors who know what [the lines mean], the audience will understand. It’s a fun, little battle for us,” Kelley said.

“That is part of the goal of an actor – to make sure the audience understands what’s coming out of my mouth,” he said.

Kelley also explained how the story line of “Romeo and Juliet” is much like TV and film is today, “but it was written 500 years ago.”

“It’s episodic in nature,” Kelley said, explaining there is fighting, comedy, and drama rolled into one play.

Tickets are $15 for general admission and $12 for students and seniors. They will go on sale Tuesday, April 1 and can be ordered by calling (612) 781-3019.

The show opens Friday, April 18 at the Grain Belt Bottling House, 79 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis. This space is being transformed into a place for theatre and art.

“The play will have a warehouse feel,” Kelley said.

Other performances will be Saturday, April 19, Sunday, April 20, Thursday, April 24 through Monday, April 28, and Thursday, May 1 through Sunday, May 4. All shows will be at 7:30 p.m., with the exception of Sunday shows which will be matinees at 2:30 p.m.

For more information or to learn of future performances by 3AM Productions check out www.3amprod.org.

Do you know more about this subject, or have a comment? E-mail news@hjpub.com