Taking a creative leap across the Pacific, a local theater company has adapted William Shakespeare's classic love story, staging star-crossed lovers who meet on an American naval base in post-World War II Japan.
The Reduxion Theatre Company's opening performance of "Romeo and Juliet" is 8 p.m. Friday at Stage Center, 400 W. Sheridan.
"There's a reason we study and perform Shakespeare's work 400 years later. Shakespeare retold ancient stories with a fresh eye, and set his tales in faraway lands, different from his own," Tyler Woods, the company's production and artistic director, wrote in a statement.
Woods said the company had to change a bit more than the setting of "Romeo and Juliet," largely to accommodate the gender reversal of Tybalt to a female, played by Mao Yanagawa. But he said the company was careful to make sure that only a few pronoun substitutions were all that was changed from the play's original language.
Yanagawa was chosen for the character, in part, with the thought that Juliet and Tybalt would "become mirror images of each other in the Japanese culture," Woods said.
He said choosing a Japanese Juliet, played by Tomoko Saito, "shows the beautiful culture of this girl and celebration of her being, and the hopes placed onto this one girl as she becomes a prize for (the Capulet family)."
Although Romeo, played by Ty Fanning, portrays an aggressive American soldier, Woods said both characters "have these expectations placed on them by their respective cultures."
Setting the play in a post-World War II American naval base in Japan heightens audience awareness of cultural norms, expectations and values, he said.
"Romeo and Juliet" continues 8 p.m. Saturday at Stage Center. Evening performances will continue Thursday through Saturday until Dec. 13.
Tickets are $15 for adults, and $10 for students and seniors. For more information, call 297-2264.