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story.lead_photo.caption Saline County Shakes will present Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, on Thursday through June 9 at the Juli Busken Memorial Amphitheater in Tyndall Park in Benton. Rehearsing for the play are Abby Windsor, from left, who appears as Juliet’s cousin Tybalt; Izzy Hammonds as Juliet; Luke Foster as Romeo; and Mia Simone Parker, as Benvolio, who is a cousin to Romeo.

Saline County Shakes will present William Shakespeare’s classic tale of star-crossed lovers in its upcoming production of Romeo and Juliet. The play will open at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Juli Busken Memorial Amphitheater in Tyndall Park and continue Friday and Saturday and again June 7-9.

Patrons are encouraged to bring blankets, cushions and chairs and to dine alfresco.

There is no admission charge, but donations will be accepted to help defray production costs and to prepare for the next production.

The play is under the direction of Michael Bartholmey of North Little Rock and Lisa Goodrich of Benton. Both have been active with Saline County Shakes since its inception in 2012. Both are also longtime supporters of The Royal Theatre’s productions in Benton.

“This is the first time Saline County Shakes has presented Romeo and Juliet,” said Bartholmey, who has a degree in theater from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

“It’s a classic that everyone knows. We thought it was time we did it,” he said.

“We have a lot of new faces in this cast,” Bartholmey said. “Costumes and props will be minimum, as this is a more modern adaptation of the play.

“Typically, we do just one show in the summer, although there have been exceptions. In 2013, we produced Macbeth in October, and last year, we performed The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) in the spring.”

Goodrich said the purpose of Saline County Shakes is to bring art to the community.

“We love being able to put a show on for the community each year and spread the arts to those who normally would not be able to experience theater,” she said.

Two newcomers to Saline County Shakes take on the title roles in Romeo and Juliet.

Luke Foster of Benton plays Romeo. Luke is a ninth-grader at Benton Junior High School and has appeared in several productions at The Royal Theatre.

“This is the first time I have ever played Romeo. I like it,” Luke said.

“It’s hard. … It’s so wordy and deep,” Foster said during a recent rehearsal. “But I’m getting it.

“This is the most lines I’ve ever had to memorize for a play. This is the most classic love

story of all time. It’s a lot of pressure to play this part.”

Izzy Hammonds, also of Benton, plays Juliet. Izzy is an eighth-grader at Benton Junior High School.

“This is the first time for me to play Juliet,” Izzy said. She is also active in productions at The Royal Theatre.

“This is one of the biggest roles I’ve had for a while,” Izzy said.

In addition to Juliet, other members in the Capulet household include Tybalt, played by Abby Windsor of Benton; Capulet, played by Koty Mansfield of Benton; Lady Capulet, played by Mollie Richey of Benton; the nurse, played by Charlotte Hammonds of Benton; Paris, played by Hunter Strom of Conway; Sampson, played by Ella Hill of Sardis; Gregory, played by Tierney Earnest of Benton; and Peter, played by Anissa Lavender of Bryant.

In addition to Romeo, other members in the Montague household include Benvolio, played by Mia Simone Parker of Bryant; Lady Montague, played by Dawn Leslie of Benton; Balthasar, played by Alex Lanier of Bryant; and Abram, played by Abbigale Davis of Benton.

Other cast members include Brooke Melton of Little Rock, who appears as Friar Lawrence; Melissa Glover of Benton as Prince; Zachary Glover of Benton as Mercutio; and DJ Pelle and Donavon Battie as servants.

Matthew Glover of Benton is the stage manager, and Libby Golleher, also of Benton, is the student director.

Tyndall Park is at 913 E. Sevier St. in Benton. For more information, contact Goodrich at (501) 249-3169.

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