The Acting Company's “Romeo & Juliet" at the University of Dubuque -- February 7.

Tuesday, February 7, 7:30 p.m.

University of Dubuque's Heritage Center, 2255 Bennett Street, Dubuque IA

A gripping drama spun from the ancient grudge between two families, and a timeless tale of star-crossed lovers who follow their passions to the ultimate end, William Shakespeare's romantic-tragedy classic Romeo & Juliet will be given a fresh interpretation at the University of Dubuque's Heritage Center on February 7, when members of the New York-based The Acting Company deliver a stirring touring production proving the Bard's story as relevant to modern society as it was four centuries ago.

Romeo & Juliet belongs to a tradition of tragic romances stretching back to antiquity, with its plot based on an Italian tale translated into verse as The Tragical History of Romeus & Juliet by Arthur Brooke in 1562, and retold in prose in William Painter's Palace of Pleasure in 1567. Shakespeare borrowed heavily from both but expanded the plot by developing a number of supporting characters, particularly Mercutio and Paris. Believed to have been written between 1591 and 1595, the play was first published in a quarto version in 1597, and Shakespeare's use of poetic dramatic structure – including effects such as switching between comedy and tragedy to heighten tension, the expansion of minor characters, and numerous sub-plots to embellish the story – was an early demonstration of the author's dramatic skill.

One of the Bard's most frequently revisited works, Romeo & Juliet has been adapted numerous times for stage, cinema, musical, and opera venues. During the English Restoration, it was revived and heavily revised by William Davenant. David Garrick's 18th-century version also modified several scenes, removing material then considered indecent, and Georg Benda's Romeo und Julie omitted much of the action and employed a happy ending. Performances in the 19th century, including Charlotte Cushman's, restored the original text and focused on greater realism, while John Gielgud's legendary 1935 version kept very close to Shakespeare's text and used Elizabethan costumes and staging to enhance the drama. In the 20th and into the 21st century, the play has been adapted in versions as diverse as George Cukor's 1936 film, Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 movie hit, and Baz Luhrmann's MTV-inspired Romeo + Juliet from 1996.

Founded in 1972 by John Houseman and Margot Harley with members of the first graduating class of Julliard’s Drama Division, the Acting Company has performed for more than 4 million people in 48 states and 10 foreign countries, in small towns and large cities alike. The organization has given more than 400 actors in two generations opportunities to to master their craft by playing challenging repertory roles early in their careers, with the company's famed alumni including Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone, Keith David, Rainn Wilson, Lorraine Toussaint, Frances Conroy, Harriet Harris, Lisa Banes, and Jeffrey Wright. Leah C. Gardiner serves as the director of Romeo & Juliet's touring production, with her ensemble composed of a dozen performers who enact two roles each: Torée Alexandre, Zoe Anastassiou, Edwin Brown, III, Darius Deon, Sam Encarnación, Max Antonio Gonzalez, Ty Camren Hawthorne, Travis Raeburn, Christopher Then, William Oliver Watkins, Eunice Woods, and Caro Zeller.

The Acting Company's Romeo & Juliet will be staged in the John & Alice Butler Hall of the University of Dubuque's Heritage Center on February 7, admission to the 7:30 p.m. show is $15-27, and more information and tickets are available by calling (563)585-7469 and visiting

Support the River Cities' Reader

Get 12 Reader issues mailed monthly for $48/year.

Old School Subscription for Your Support

Get the printed Reader edition mailed to you (or anyone you want) first-class for 12 months for $48.
$24 goes to postage and handling, $24 goes to keeping the doors open!

Click this link to Old School Subscribe now.

Help Keep the Reader Alive and Free Since '93!


"We're the River Cities' Reader, and we've kept the Quad Cities' only independently owned newspaper alive and free since 1993.

So please help the Reader keep going with your one-time, monthly, or annual support. With your financial support the Reader can continue providing uncensored, non-scripted, and independent journalism alongside the Quad Cities' area's most comprehensive cultural coverage." - Todd McGreevy, Publisher