Romeo & Juliet

Victoria Esplanade Rose Gardens, Palmerston North

24/02/2023 - 04/03/2023

Production Details

William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet
Director: Rhian Firmin

Manawatū Summer Shakespeare 2023 Company

Romeo & Juliet by Manawatū Summer Shakespeare 2023 Company. Directed by Rhian Firmin.
Community-led production of Romeo & Juliet has been released and produced throughout the summer months of 2022 – 2023.

Actors arrive after they’ve finished work anywhere from 5 PM. They set their space; set props, contributing to help the lighting & sound team lift lights and lay cables. Others organise marquees, or easy-ups, organise costumes or practice their choreographed fight routines on and off the stage.
In costume and Make-up, the cast and director meet for a vocal warm-up and check in before the audience arrives.
FOH greet audience members and assists those who are looking for a good view of the stage. 15 minutes before the show starts, 3 cast members from the capulet household enter the stage space with Lady Capulet, to roam and interact with the audience who are still finding their place or those who catch their eye.
7:00 PM – Show begins
8:30 PM – Interval (15 mins)
9:20 PM – Show Ends

24 Feb- 4 March, 7 pm / Saturday 25 Feb 5 pm

Booking – No need to book prior. The audience can simply arrive on the evening of their choosing
Price – Koha Entry (Gold coin or more)


2023 Season: Romeo and Juliet
Instagram @palmyshakespeare

Romeo and Juliet Cast List:
Keeper John: Mark Kilsby
Madam Lawrence: Hannah Pratt
Lady Montague: Verena Mckenzie
Nurse: Vicky Richter
Paris: Zak Rodgers
Romeo: Cam Dickons
Balthasar: Charlotte White
Juliet: Nina Kereama-Stevenson
Ben: E Free
Mercutio: Sam Wyss
Peta: Danielle Brown
Lord Capulet: Reihana Haronga
Bassett: Abby McKee
Juno: Sarah Angland
Mayor Escalus: Shar Carson
Lady Capulet: Louise O’Flaherty
Abram/The Watch: Molly Sheridan
Sampson: Ihaia Kunaiti
Gregory: Izzy Power
Griffith: Anna Skeggs
Tybalt: Matt Schaw
Petruchio/Apothecary: Ella Wieliczko
Volio: Mallory Mackenzie
The Watch: Thomas Wilson

Director: Rhian Firmin
Stage Manager: Olly Dale
Assistant Stage Manager: Alexandra Bellad-Ellis

Executive Producer: Rachel Lenart
Production Manager: Trent Pedley
Marketing and Sponsorship Manager: Lisa Swinbanks
Dramaturgical advisor: Dr Hannah August

Technical Director/ Operator/ Lighting Design: Pierce Barber
Sound design/ arrangements/ engineers/ Performers: Dave Boyack, Adam Lee
Costume Design: Lana Sklenars
Set Design: Charlie Jackson, Lana Sklenars, Olly Dale, Rhian Firmin
Set Construction: Charlie Jackson, Olly Dale
Props construction and design: Olly Dale, Izzy Power
Fight director: David Ladderman
Fight Choreography/ Fight Captain: Zak Rodgers
Dance Choreography: Trent Pedley
Waiata Kaiako: Reremoana Hokianga
Technical assistant: Jacob Wilson
Graphic design: Poppy Serano
Programme design: Cam Dickons
Photography: Sam Millen, Rob Edwards
Front of House Manager: Lara Morgan, Lisa Swinbanks

Theatre ,

120 mins

Authentically raw emotion combines with robust fight scenes in this punchy action-packed social drama

Review by Richard Mays 02nd Mar 2023

Cold as! Man, that bity wind on opening night in fair Palmy North where Summer Shakespeare laid its scene was a bone chiller. It felt frigid everywhere – except directly over and around the Victoria Esplanade’s Duguld Mackenzie fishpond where Summer Shakespeare performers and their crew seemed impervious to the wind chill.

Over the pond’s cross-shaped under-lit pier and on its paved surrounds, a calliope of costumed Capulets and Montagues cartwheel – capering, brawling, carousing, cajoling, pleading, loving and finally mourning.

This is an energetic and visceral retelling of the famous tragedy, not so much focusing on the love story, but on what happens when two impatiently headstrong teens decide to flout social convention. Faced then with unfolding circumstances beyond their control, which includes some lousy timing indirectly caused by Covid, the ill-equipped emotionally immature pair blindly succumb to tragedy. 

Director Rhian Firmin has a wide round stage to fill and, with an experienced and committed cast, deftly coordinates her vision where Montagues in free-wheeling street punk denims clash with Capulets in 80s-era power-themed outfits.

The show is full of movement, delightful anachronisms and off-the-ball activity, underscored by the scene-set keyboards and vocals of Dave Boyack (Rusty Frames) and Adam Lee; enhanced as darkness encroaches by Pierce Barber’s lighting, and by Lana Sklenars’ costuming. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles outfits in the masked ball scene are a special treat.

Firmin and her team have created an attention-grabbing immersive experience that makes use of every square metre – including the water. OK, so the wind requires high levels of audience concentration to catch the words, and not all the actors are up to the challenge of projecting through the variable gusts. However, while unfortunate, this doesn’t detract fatally from the well-known narrative.

This production was cancelled in 2022 because of the pandemic, so when opening night 2023 finally arrived, nothing was going to hold it back.

As Romeo, Cam Dickons crunches the protagonist’s many moods, from distracted youth, to infatuated lover, followed by damn-the-consequences avenger, with a bout of bawling hysterics thrown in, and finally a deadly resolve.

The portrayed age of Juliet varies from production to production, and Nina Kereama-Stevenson pitches her character in this one at the older end of the teenage spectrum. Beneath her winsome exterior beats a wilful heart, as equal to sparring with her nurse, rebuffing her father and rejecting Paris, as she is in the more intimate scenes with her new-found lover.

The script is edited so that Madame Lawrence – mother confessor – has some predominance. Hannah Pratt excels here. The scene where she outlines her romance-rescuing plan to a blubbing whiny inconsolable Romeo is played out with expressiveness, fluid movement and comic timing.

Another shining performance comes from Reihana Haronga as Lord Capulet. Swaggering and cock-sure of himself, Capulet’s boiling rant at his uncooperative daughter is a showstopper, rewarded with well-deserved applause.

Flamboyantly and alternatively attired Sam Wyss as Mercutio in high heels, Matt Schaw’s no-nonsense steely-eyed baseball bat-wielding Tybalt; Vicky Richter’s equivocating pink tracksuit-clad Nurse; Louise O’Flaherty’s mannered haute-couture attired Lady Capulet all added to the tapestry of this time-honoured tale. In this punchy action-packed social drama, expressions of authentically raw emotion combine with robust fight scenes add to the reasons why opening night’s crowd at this colourful 120-minute alfresco pageant should be replicated by as many as possible in the few nights there are left.


John Smythe March 6th, 2023

Thank you Brendan - corrected now. Best wishes.

Brendan Stevenson March 5th, 2023

Wonderful review thanks. But you have Juliet's name wrong (and getting that right is very important!). It is Nina Kereama-Stevenson. Regards Brendan

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