Jennifer Lagundino (left front) and Enrique Brave (far left, back) in "Dying City,"
"Dying City," running in rep with "Shakespeare's R&J". Featuring Enrique Bravo (far right), Ryan Tresser (hand over mounth), Lucas Hoiland (back) and Ryan Conarro.
Story last updated at 1/28/2009 - 1:34 pm
JUNEAU - Thunder Mountain Theatre Project is getting ready to kick off their second season with two plays performed in repertory. Between both shows, five actors will take the roles of about a dozen different characters.
"Dying City" by Christopher Shinn is a contemporary drama featuring Enrique Bravo and Jennifer Lagundino. The play centers around the cost of war and focuses specifically on the loss of a husband in Iraq. Bravo plays twin brothers with totally opposite personalities, and Lagundino plays a widow of war.
Ryan Conarro is directing "Dying City." He said the element of three characters played by two actors makes for very engaging theatre.
"There's a lot of formal intrigue about the play," Conarro said. "Information is slowly divulged in different periods of time by different brothers played by the same actor. I think it unfolds sort of as a mystery."
Flordelino Lagundino, founder of Thunder Mountain Theatre Project, said he is glad to be doing a play in Juneau dealing with the Iraq war. He recalled only one other recent local production sharing the same topic.
"Hopefully the community will want to come and discuss it," he said. "I think it's a great dialogue and Christopher Shinn has a very important voice in contemporary theatre."
"Shakespeare's R&J" adapted by Joe Calarco takes a modern twist on the classic "Romeo and Juliet." It is an all-male version in which all the characters are played by only four actors.
Lucas Hoiland is one of the four. When he's not playing with the Thunder Mountain crew, he works in the theatre department at Juneau-Douglas High School. He has also been in a few productions with Perseverance Theatre.
Conarro is not only directing "Dying City" but also acting in "R&J." He said he's enjoying being "on different sides of the table."
"I get all different viewpoints on things which is interesting and challenging," Conarro said. "It's such an exciting, fun group of people so it really makes me not mind how much time we spend together and how much work we're doing."
Conarro said he enjoys the contrast between the two plays, especially the difference in language style.
"One is a classical tragedy by Shakespeare ... and the other is a drama just written a few years ago," Conarro said.
Connaro is also co-writing and directing "8 Stars of Gold" for Perseverance later this season.
Ryan Tresser, another one of the actors in "R&J," went to school with Conarro, who suggested that he should come to Juneau from his home in Brooklyn for this production. It's Tresser's first time to Alaska, and he has described his experience so far as "magic."
"I've been really struck by all the people that I've met and how giving they are," Tresser said.
In addition to his roles in "R&J," Tresser did the sound design for "Dying City." He will be sticking around town a while longer to play Lisianski in Perseverance's production of "Battles of Fire and Water."
Tresser has been in the original version of "Romeo and Juliet" and describes "R&J" as more immediate and accessible.
"It's kind of gutted," Tresser said. "(Calarco) went through (the script) with a pruner and took out the things that weren't relevant. This is sort of the layman's version."
Bravo, who has parts in both plays, also came from New York for this project, but it isn't his first time to Juneau. He has been back and forth several times and plans to return again for future productions with Perseverence.
"Alaska keeps me balanced," Bravo said. "Once I start getting tired of one (place), I go back to the other."
Though these two plays employ a host of actors from across the country, Flordelino Lagundino said they work with great cohesion as many of them have worked together before. He is directing "R&J," his first time directing Shakespeare.
"I was a little scared of it, to be honest," Lagundino said. Luckily, his cast "knows the bones of the show" and he said their chemistry really ties everything together.
"It's a lot of testosterone on stage," Flordelino said.
But audience should not be intimidated by all that testosterone, Hoiland said.
"Just come," he said. "If (you're) worried about an all-male version of 'Romeo and Juliet,' don't be."
Thurs., Jan. 29: Dying City, 7:30 p.m. Pay-as-you-can Preview
Fri., Jan. 30: Dying City, 7:30 p.m. Opening night
Sat., Jan. 31: Shakespeare's R&J, 7:30 p.m. Pay-as-you-can Preview
Sun., Feb. 1: Dying City, 2 p.m., pay-as-you-can preview; Shakespeare's R&J, 7:30pm, opening night
The performances will run through Feb. 15.
Tickets are available at Hearthside Books. For more information visit www.thundermountaintheatre.org.
Libby Sterling may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.