CSO to present Romeo and Juliet

The Conway Symphony Orchestra will bring to life the story of star-crossed lovers from both sides of the world, with a little help from friends at the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre and the Arkansas Festival Ballet.

Featuring the music of Prokofiev, the words of Shakespeare, and what has often been called “the Chinese Romeo and Juliet,” the 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 5, performance at Reynolds Performance Hall will be a multi-art experience of this classic and tragic love story.

Single tickets are $18-$38 for adults, $6 for children/students and $10 for UCA faculty/staff. There is also a discount rate of $15 for groups of 10 or more. Tickets are available from the Reynolds box office at 501.450.3265 or uca.edu/tickets. The concert is underwritten by First Service Bank with guest artist support from Nabholz Construction, and hospitality support from the Confucius Institute and Julie’s Sweet Shop.

Featured soloist and concertmaster Linda Hsu will perform “The Butterfly Lovers” Violin Concerto, based on a popular Chinese legend first recorded in the ninth century. Over the years, the story of star-crossed lovers has given rise to a number of operas, films, animated films and a musical. “It is literally THE most famous piece of Chinese music – if you whistle it going down the street anywhere in the country, people will recognize it,” said conductor/music director Israel Getzov.

For the second half of the performance, the CSO will join forces with the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre and Arkansas Festival Ballet for selected pieces from Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet.” “It will be a seamless presentation of theater, music and dance that tells the story from beginning to end,” said Getzov. “With a full 75-piece orchestra, costumes and original choreography, this will be the essence of Romeo and Juliet.”

Directed by AST Producing Artistic Director Rebekah Scallet, the scenes from Shakespeare’s well-known play will feature Garrett Whitehead of Little Rock as Romeo, and Kayla Williams of Conway as Juliet, plus Jordy Neill of Little Rock (formerly of Conway) as Mercutio, Jordan Breckenridge of Conway as Tybalt and other characters, and Chris Fritzges of Conway as Lord Capulet, Juliet’s father. Kayla is a UCA Theatre student, and the others are core actors with the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre who have appeared in several previous productions.

Under the direction of Rebecca Stalcup, artistic director of Arkansas Festival Ballet, the featured dancers in the production will be Sara Williams of Little Rock, a senior at Ouachita Baptist University and former AFB Company Dancer; and Nathan Young, of Nashville, formerly of Little Rock and former AFB Company Dancer, now a Company Dancer with Nashville Ballet. He appears in this performance of Romeo and Juliet courtesy of Nashville Ballet.

The Arkansas Festival Ballet is a repertory dance company dedicated to classical ballet training and performance. Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre is the state’s only professional Shakespeare company, housed on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas. The Conway Symphony Orchestra brings professional concerts, exciting guest artists and high-quality music to the Central Arkansas community. For more information on concerts and other programs, visit ConwaySymphony.org or call 501.269.1066.