SOC Will Create One Big Family Under the Stars with Romeo and Juliet

SOC Romeo and Juliet

Ramón de Ocampo and Nikki SooHoo

For its first production of Summerfest 2015, Shakespeare Orange County (SOC) applies its theme of uniting ‘One Big Family Under the Stars’ to Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s romantic drama of star-crossed lovers separated by irreconcilable families. Romeo and Juliet will open on July 11, with a special Night in White pre-show dinner package available, and continue through August 1.

Romeo and Juliet, arguably western literature’s most famous love story, was written early in Shakespeare’s career and, along with Hamlet, remains his most frequently performed play. It has inspired art in every media, including Franco Zefferelli’s 1968 film version, which will screen at the amphitheater on June 27.

When producing artistic director John Walcutt took over the 36-year-old company in 2014, it was with a pledge to use Orange County’s centrally located amphitheater to build bridges between generations and across the more than 70 languages spoken in the community.

“Shakespeare’s script shows how a community can be fragmented by hostility and ignorance,” said Walcutt, who co-directs with associate artistic director Mike Peebler. “Our production shows how a community can come together through artistic endeavor.” 

The cast features Nikki SooHoo as Juliet and Ramón de Ocampo as Romeo, with Peter Gil Chang (Montague), Michael Drace Fountain (Prince), Bo Foxworth (Mercutio), Tess Lina (Lady Capulet), Dianne Manaster (Nurse), Michael Nehring (Friar Laurence), Stefano Della Pietra (Benvolio), Young Hye Sohn (Lady Montague), Pedro Villareal (Capulet), Jay Wallace (Tybalt), and David Warshol (Paris).

The production team is Michael Drace Fountain (scenic design), Sean McMullen (costume design) William and Jennifer Georges (lighting and sound design) and Jeff Budner (fight choreography, with Casey Garritano). Jenny Brum and Cailin Luneburg are stage managing.

SOC Romeo and Juliet

Relámpago del Cielo

Romeo and Juliet is co-produced by SOC and the Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association (VAALA), with the participation of Relámpago del Cielo, the 40-year-old folklórico group from Santa Ana. There is additional community involvement from the Korean Social Club of Orange County and the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA).

“Two of our leading Korean language actors will perform for the first time in English in the production,” said Duck Soon Walcutt, who co-founded the Korean Social Club of Orange County in 2014 to promote Korean involvement and exposure to the arts in Garden Grove. “SOC has been very generous and inclusive with the Korean community, inviting us into this beautiful theatre and making us feel welcome. We are very proud to be involved with SOC and, in particular, with this Romeo and Juliet experience.”

Ysa Le, executive director of VAALA adds, “It is our pleasure to collaborate with SOC and move beyond the traditional format in order to be more inclusive and accessible while highlighting Orange County’s diversity.” VAALA was formed in 1991 by Vietnamese American journalists, artists and friends to connect and enrich communities through Vietnamese art and culture. “We look forward to the originality, creativity and pure entertainment SOC will be presenting this season.”

Enhancing the production’s depth will be Relámpago del Cielo’s music, particularly in performance at the Capulet party for Juliet, which becomes her quinceañera where the family and guests join in traditional dances.

“This creative and forward thinking, to incorporate the Mexican and Vietnamese cultures into such a classic play is wonderful,” said Relámpago del Cielo artistic director Marlene Peña-Marin. “We are very excited to be part of this special production and hope this inspires other artists to think outside the box.”

ROMEO AND JULIET
July 2 – August 1, 2015
Shakespeare Orange County
Garden Grove Amphitheater
12762 Main St, Garden Grove
Tickets: 714-636-3729 or www.shakespeareoc.org

The July 11 opening “Nights in White,” is a special $100 package that includes pre-show dinner and entertainment on the amphitheater lawn, with reserved seats in the first three rows. Guests are invited to dress in white. Thanks to generous support from Macy’s, SOC is also offering two rush ticket programs. On Fridays and Saturdays beginning at 7 pm, “7 at 7” offers remaining seats for that night’s performance for $7; and Thursdays are Pay What You Want for all remaining unsold seats one-half hour before curtain.

All photos by Jordan Kubat

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