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Theater review: 'The Capulets and the Montagues' at NewPlace Studio Theatre

February 3, 2011 | 12:00 pm

C&M-ThompsonCiacaloneWillsIf you ever wished that Juliet woke  just a minute or two earlier and hied off with Romeo to a honeymoon villa in Calabria, you will find your fantasy fulfilled in “The Capulets and the Montagues,” Lope de Vega's rarely produced comedy, presented by the Andak Stage Company at the NewPlace Studio Theatre. 

Based on the same source material as Shakespeare's tragedy and written at about the same time, De Vega's riotously funny piece offers big laughs en route to a happy ending. These hapless young lovers aren't so much star-crossed as banana-peeled.

Dakin Matthews' sparkling new translation, being given its world premiere, is so remarkably contemporary, it feels as fresh as yesterday's “Daily Show” monologue. This show is all about the language, and director Anne McNaughton makes the most of her opportunities in a beautifully paced staging that nails the laughs without overdoing things.

With the exception of Dean Cameron's period costumes, the design elements are purposefully unobtrusive and spare, another indication that this production is stripped down and ready to romp. A silver-tongued cast makes the text sing with no sour notes.

Benny Wills' randy Romeo and Nicol Zanzarella-Giacalone's minx-like Juliet will amusingly alter any preconceptions you may have about their characters. Theatrical stalwarts John Achorn and John Apicella are perfectly cast as the feuding fathers, Capulet and Montague. The cast also includes Brett Colbeth, Etta Devine, Drew Doyle, Bruce Green, Jerry Hoffman, Kellie Matteson and R. Scott Thompson, all worthy of mention.  Not only is “The Capulets and the Montagues” purely fun, it's historically significant as well -- an unjustly obscure work by the master of Spain's golden age of drama.

-- F. Kathleen Foley

“The Capulets and the Montagues,” NewPlace Studio Theatre, 10950 Peach Grove St., North Hollywood.  8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays.  Ends Feb. 27.  $25.  (866) 811-4111.  Running time:  2 hours, 30 minutes.

Photo: R. Scott Thompson, Nicol Zanzarella-Giacalone, Benny Wills.   Credit: John Apicella.