Romeo and Juliet Beautiful, Muscular and Alive

11th May 2015
For immediate release
Romeo and Juliet
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Ross Gumbley
At The Court Theatre 30 May – 20 June 2015
Beautiful, Muscular and Alive
Romeo and Juliet is shorthand for romance. “I don’t think that there has been another play written in 400 years that
captures the passion, danger and excitement of young love”, says director Ross Gumbley.
In 44 years and with over 800 productions under its belt it may be surprising that The Court Theatre has never
before staged a production of Shakespeare’s timeless story of star crossed lovers. But that is about to change. The
Court is set to mount an epic scale production of Romeo and Juliet which will open on 30 May.
“In the old Court Theatre at the Arts Centre we just didn’t have the height to play the iconic balcony scene in Act 2,
Scene 2 and give justice to the full scope of the play”, says the show’s director and Court Artistic Director, Ross
But that doesn’t mean The Court doesn’t have a Romeo and Juliet pedigree. Former Court Theatre Artistic Director
Elric Hooper played Balthasar and understudied for Romeo in Franco Zeffirelli’s famous 1968 production of Romeo
and Juliet.
“To act and sing in Zeffirelli’s spectacular operatic and cinematic production of Romeo and Juliet was a wonderful
start for a career. Naturally when I directed the play for Canterbury University, I was heavily influenced by Zeffirelli”,
says Hooper. “The play’s energy must surely inspire The Court.”
Will The Court be presenting a period piece or creating something new?
“We auditioned lots of periods,” says Gumbley. “We want it to sing to the audience now, not be a museum piece like
a coin locked in a cabinet gathering dust.” The show will feature a set designed by Julian Southgate which will utilise
the full width and height of the stage. The set draws strongly from the marble buildings in the northern Italian cities
of Turin and Bologna.
“Verona will be a grimy urban landscape that has the kind of grandiose beauty sought out by sightseers but which is
treated contemptuously by the people who live in it,” says Southgate. “It is the trap from which they can’t escape.”
Work on over 65 costumes began over a year ago for costume designer Tina Hutchison-Thomas.
“We were gifted a collection of dresses from a woman who had lost her wedding gown business in the quakes. We
have stripped them back and up-cycled them into lavish gowns for the party scene where Romeo sees Juliet for the
first time and falls in love”, says Hutchison-Thomas.
In addition to the ball gowns, The Court Theatre’s costume department is creating numerous unique pieces including
Juliet’s dressing gown which features 20 hours of hand smocking.
This production of Romeo and Juliet will honour Shakespeare’s original script. However director Gumbley and The
Court’s new Literary Manager Allison Horsley have edited it down from over three hours to appeal to a
contemporary audience… and bladder.
The actors are drawn from amongst The Court’s most beloved, along with actors from around New Zealand making
their Court debut. Included in the cast are six third year actors from the National Academy of Singing and Dancing in
Fight director and action-specialist Tony Wolf has been brought from Chicago to choreograph the fight scenes.
The show promises to be beautiful, very muscular and alive.
Matthew McMenamin: Sampson
Jonathan Martin: Mercutio & Gregory
Barry de Lore: Abraham & Friar Lawrence
Stephen Lefebvre: Balthasar
Ben Freeth: Benvolio & Apothecary
Owen Black: Tybalt & Friar John
Amy Sisson: Citizen, Servant & Guest
Riley Harter: Citizen, Servant & Guest
Tom Trevella: Capulet
Kim Garrett: Lady Capulet
Jack Marshall: Peter
Stuart Hayward: Paris
Ross McKellar: Montague & Cafe Owner
Grace Irving: Lady Montague & Guest
Roy Snow: Prince Escalus
Cameron Douglas: Romeo
Yvonne Martin: Nurse
Natasha Daniel: Juliet
Ross Gumbley: Director
Julian Southgate: Set Design
Tina Hutchison-Thomas: Costume Design
Tony Wolf: Action Design
Stephen Robertson: Choreography
Giles Tanner: Lighting Design
Sean Hawkins: Sound Design
Anneke Bester: Properties
Ashlyn Smith: Stage Manager
Annie Pearce: Production Manager
Show Sponsor: Newstalk ZB
To Book phone 03 963 0870 or visit
Show Times:
6:30pm Mon & Thu;
7:30pm Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat;
2:00pm Matinée Sat. June 13
Tickets $56-$22
For more information and photos visit The Court Theatre Media Centre
To arrange interviews please contact:
Wendy Riley
Communications Manager, The Court Theatre
Phone: 03 963 0884
[email protected]