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Released March 28, 2003

THEATRE SEASON AT SOUTHERN MISS CLOSES WITH LOVERS' TALE

HATTIESBURG - William Shakespeare's violent and bawdy tale of ancient feuds and star-crossed lovers will close the 2002-03 theater season at The University of Southern Mississippi April 10-12 and 23-27 in the Martha R. Tatum Theatre.

Director Monica Hayes plans to present "The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet" by using a contemporary flair with a Renaissance flavor. She advises that it is a common misconception to think of this classic Shakespearean play as a sweet teenage love story.

"It is a very violent, very bawdy, very funny and very tragic play all at once," Hayes said. "In our staging of it, we emphasize the sheer passion and verve of the characters. Our actors hit the floor running and never stop. In love and in war, Shakespeare is a full-body contact sport."

Still, Hayes insists that the text rules all, along with a very capable student and faculty cast who "handle the lines with a dexterity and an urgency that will keep audiences fully engaged."

Junior Aleshea Harris of Biloxi portrays Juliet. She is the first to recognize the enormous task of taking on such a prolific role, one she considers "a tremendous challenge."

Danielle Devine, who portrays Lady Capulet, agrees. "This show is a particular challenge because everyone knows the story, so there is a preconceived idea of how it should be performed," said Devine, a senior from Natchez. "But it's not just about Romeo and Juliet -- it's about community. People are killed within this community, so it affects everyone. It's very timely."

Cast members who execute the larger fight sequences, staged by faculty member Drew Sutherland, include John Croke as Romeo, Keith Launey as Mercutio, Daniel Dauphin as Tybalt and Adam Myrick as Paris. Sutherland also plays Friar Lawrence.

"Romeo and Juliet" will run April 10-12 and 23-26 at 7:30 p.m. each evening and at 2 p.m. on April 27. Tickets are $10 general admission, $8 for Southern Miss faculty and staff and senior citizens, and $6 for students. For tickets, call the Southern Miss Ticket Office at (601) 266-5418 or 800-844-8425. Order online at www.tickets.usm.edu.

This production contains violence and bawdy humor and may not be suitable for all audience members. Children five years of age and under will not be allowed into the theatre but may watch from the lobby monitor if accompanied by an adult.

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July 16, 2003 9:33 AM

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