A comedic middle school take on Shakespeare's classic “Romeo and Juliet” is returning to Stebens Children’s Theatre in Mason City.
“Romeo and Juliet Together (and Alive!) at Last,” sponsored by Larson Printing, premieres Wednesday at the theater, 616 N. Delaware Ave. Performances are at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
“It’s just really funny,” said Brynn Christianson, who is cast as Anabell Stackpoole and Juliet in the production. “If you walk in, there is no way you will not laugh.”
The play, adapted by Sandra Fenichel Asher from a book written by Avi, is about middle-schoolers who stage a performance of “Romeo and Juliet” to bring their extremely shy classmates – and crushes – Pete Saltz, played by Alex Bohls, and Anabell Stackpoole, together by casting them as the leads.
However, lack of expertise, two weeks of rehearsal and a classmate’s villainy threaten the well-intentioned endeavor every step of the way.
“As a director, it’s very hard to work on because we see all these bad choices being made and we’re always trying to correct them,” said Tom Ballmer, Stebens executive director. “Now, we’re trying to make all these bad choices and trying to live with those choices, while also trying to make them funny.”
This is the third time the theater has presented “Romeo and Juliet Together (and Alive!) at Last” within the past 20 years.
Ballmer said the play is very recognizable for those who enjoy the Shakespearean classic, but it’s less about “Romeo and Juliet” and more about middle-schoolers trying to unite their classmates.
“If you knew ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ it’d still be very funny because you know how it’s supposed to go and you see these middle-schoolers totally ruining it, and it’ll be hilarious,” said Maggie Gerrietts, 13, who was cast as Lucy Neblet.
Gerrietts, who is in her ninth Stebens production, described her character as a trendy, smart gossip girl.
Lucy Neblet and Ed Sitrow, played by Alexander Shipman, are the masterminds behind the plot to bring the middle-school crushes together in the play.
The lights, music and costumes in the middle school play in “Romeo and Juliet Together (and Alive!) at Last” are hilarious, Gerrietts said.
“We were watching it the other day...and we were just cracking up,” she said.
Christianson, 13, who is starring in her fifth Stebens production, said she’s similar to her character, Anabell Stackpoole, who’s a shy bookworm.
Bohls, 13, is appearing in his 11th on-stage production as the leading male, whose character has some noticeable quirks. His last was “Tom Sawyer.”
His favorite scene is one in which he and other middle-schoolers re-enact the sword fight in “Romeo and Juliet” with pool noodles instead.
The production is bolstered by a nearly complete middle-school cast and crew of more than 30 members.
Those cast in “Romeo and Juliet Together (and Alive!) at Last” are: Alex Bohls, Pete Saltz/Romeo; Alexander Shipman, Ed Sitrow; Brynn Christianson, Anabell Stackpoole/Juliet; Benny Schutt, Ronald Radosh/Benvolio; Nicholas Cadena, Tom Hays/Friar; Maggie Gerrietts, Lucy Neblet; Abby Hartkopp, Priscilla Black/Nurse; Seth Pistek, Albert Hamilton/Tybalt; Owen Stroup, Jim Sondstrom; Ishnoor Kaur, Cindy Huber/party person; Destiny Kinyaiya, Mary Davis/party person; Marcus Shaffer, Sam Pettry/Mercutio; Naomi Garrett, Margaret Fitzsimmons/party person; Julia Arickx, Marks/party person; Hannah Hitchcock, Eliscue /party person; Angela Schutt, Amy Jefferson/Lady Capulet; Rebecca Kadera, Barish/Capulet; Yutong Jiang, Dubois/Balthasar; Olivia Schissel, Parks/Chorus/party person; Norah Truex, Miles/party person; Amelia Mirowski, Jessie Bolin; Brian Truex, Mr. Sullivan; Lydia Ouverson, Mrs. Bacon; Grace Perkinson, Betsy Hays; and Emily Manchester, Classmate/party person.
The crew is Sophia Ciavarelli, assistant director; Delia Fick, assistant stage manager; Seth Pistek, lights designer; Jon Losen, lights; Youssef Raji, sound; Tyler Duren, sound designer assistant; and Olivia Schissel, stage manager.
Tickets are $11 for adults and $8 for children 18 and younger. They are available at the theater or by calling the box office 641-424-9802 between noon and 5 p.m. weekdays.
Photos: Stebens Children's Theatre over the years in Mason City
Romeo and Juliet
Cast members of Stebens Children's Theatre's production of "Romeo and Juliet Together (and Alive!) at Last" pose for a photo prior to a rehearsal on Tuesday in Mason City.
The cast of Steben’s Children’s Theatre’s production of “The Addams Family” poses for a photo Tuesday prior to a rehearsal in Mason City.
Brer Rabbit 1
From left, cast members Catherine Gobeli, Sarah Betz and Tom Ballmer pose for a photo as they rehearse for Stebens Children's Theatre's production of "The Adventures of Brer Rabbit" on Wednesday.
Stebens Children's Theatre presents Tom Sawyer
Stebens Children's Theatre will present "Tom Sawyer" Thursday, Feb. 21 through Sunday, Feb. 24. (Left to right: Sally Pressly, Alexander Shipman, Ben Aronson, Amelia Mirowski, Lukas Shipman)
Cast members from Stebens Children's Theatre's production of "Once Upon a Mattress" pose for a photo prior to a rehearsal on Wednesday in Mason City.
Cast member from the Stebens Children's Theatre's production of "Gooney Bird Greene and her true life adventures" poses for a photo prior to rehearsal Friday in Mason City.
Dixie Sweetheart Jubilee cast members, from left, Ava Ciavarelli, Makenna Hansen, Sophia Willis, Kylie Hansen and Marcus Buttweiler pose for a photo prior to rehearsal Thursday at Stebens Children's Theatre in Mason City.
Cast members of "Kids Working" pose for a photo during a rehearsal Friday at the Steben's Children's Theatre.
The cast of Stebens Children's Theatre's production of "Peter and the Starcatcher pose for a photo prior to a rehearsal on Friday.
Cast members of Stebens Children’s Theatre's production of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” pose for a photo during a rehearsal on Tuesday.
Cinderella Preview 1
Cast members of Stebens Children's Theatre production of Cinderella, from left, Avah Hanig, Amelia Ouverson, Janae Hansen, Marcus Buttweiler, Grace Perkinson and Sofia Ahari pose for a photo at the theater on Oct. 2.
"The Andrews Sisters" cast, from left, Annaliese Emmons, Sophia Willis, Amelia Ouverson, Gabby Gaubatz and Ava Ciavarelli pose for a photo during a rehearsal at the Stebens Children's Theatre in Mason City on Tuesday.
WH Stebens Children's Theatre 1
Stebens Children's Theatre presented "Anansi the Spider" at the West Hancock Elementary Thursday morning.
Stone Soup 1
Annaliese Emmons, left, and Micah Emmons act out a scene from the upcoming Stebens Children’s Theatre production, “Stone Soup.” Performances are 7 p.m. Oct. 12-15, and 2 p.m. Oct. 16.
In a scene from Stebens Children’s Theatre’s production of “Sleeping Beauty,” Tristan Koopman, left, plays Prince Takai and the dragon is played by Lauren Jurgens, Youssef Raji, Aaron Roe and Angela Schutt.
Rehearsing the "play within a play" in "Little Women" are, from left, Mary Rohne, Annaliese Emmons, Hannah Harting and Kylie Hansen.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Members of Stebens Children's Theater rehearse for "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat" on Monday. They are, from left, Jenna Lovik, Amelia Ouverson, Ben Siglin, Hannah Harting, Sophia Ciavarelli and Henry Klatt (center).
Smoke On the Mountain
From left, Henry Klatt, Lydia Ouverson, Marcus Buttweiler, Ben Siglin, Amelia Ouverson, Tom Ballmer, Sophia Ciavarelli and Hannah Harting rehearse for the Stebens Children’s Theater’s upcoming performance of “Smoke On the Mountain” on Tuesday.
Rehearsing a scene from the Stebens Children's Theatre performance of "Noodle Doodle Box" are (from left) Elizabeth Montgomery, David Birkedal and Christy Ogaard.
Rehearsing for the Stebens Children's Theatre production of "Honk!" are, bottom from left, Kylie Hansen, Makenna Hansen, Maya Jalukar and Tiyana Roger, and Lydia Ouverson, top.
Stebens 12 Dancing Princeses
Members of Stebens Children's Theater cast of "12 Dancing Princesses." Will Symonds (left) plays Tepan, Amelia Ouverson plays Baka and Elijah Warfield plays Yash.
Stebens Barn Dance.jpg
Rehearsing a scene from the Stebens Children's Theatre production of WSCT Radio Barn Dance are, from the left, Bethany Larson, Ben Siglin, Elijah Warfield, Sarah Betz, Lydia Ouverson and Sophia Ciavarelli.
Abby and the Absolutes. Musical revue traveling show
Stebens Children’s Theater's cast of "Abby and the Absolutes," a musical revue traveling show, from left, Bethany Larson, Sarah Betz, Sophia Ciavarelli, Lydia Ouverson, Ben Siglin and Elijah Warfield.
The Stebens Children’s Theater cast of "The Pied Piper." The piper is played by Noah Fredricks. Rats to the left of the piper are Tiyana Rogers, Neve Lewerke, Shane Curry, Alexander Shipman, Liv Hackbart and Sarah Kelly. Rats to the right of the piper and between his legs are Brelynne Rogne, Emily Ogaard, Destiny Kinyaiya, Peyton Hardy and Avery Heinzerling.
From left, Kylie Hansen as Woodstock, Lydia Ouverson as Lucy, Randy Davenport as Charlie Brown and Sarah Betz as Snoopy rehearse for the Stebens Children's Theatre performance of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."
Little Red Riding Hood
From left, Tristan Koopman, Brelynne Rogne, Kayla English, Yuvia Maldonado, Maggie Gerrietts, Brooke Hoeppner and Tiyana Rogers rehearse for Stebens Children's Theatre's performance of Little Red Riding Hood.
"The Fisherman's Wife"
Members of the Stebens Children's Theater cast of "The Fisherman's Wife." From left, Elizabeth Rocha plays Wife, Austin Bailey plays Fisherman and Andrew Bailey plays Flounder.
Members of Stebens Children's Theater cast of "Bugsy Malone" include (from left) Senai Lewerke, Annie Moore, Austin Bailey, Amelia Ouverson and Yuvia Maldonado.
Still Life With Iris
Members of Stebens Children's Theater cast of "Still Life With Iris." From left, Ella Fritz plays Ray, Andrew Bailey plays Captain Also, Kayla English plays Third String and Eden Lewerke plays Annabel Lee.
Members of the Stebens Children's Theatre cast of the touring musical revue "Swingtime Canteen" are, from left, Hannah Harting, Sophia Ciavarelli, Sarah Betz (front), Amelia Ouverson (back), Mary Rohne and Annie Moore.
"Off with her head!"
Among members of Stebens Children's Theatre cast of "Alice in Wonderland" are, from left, Alex Bohls, Makenna Hansen, Sarah Betz, Silas Hoffman and Jackson Everist.
Stebens Children's Theatre cast of "Annie" includes, third from the left, Molly, played by Janae Hansen, and third from the right, Miss Hannigan, played by Catherine Gobeli.
Wind in the Willows
Grant Bohls, left and Hannah Harting rehearse for the Stebens Children’s Theater performance of “Wind in the Willows.”
"Why Mosquitos Buzz"
Members of Stebens Children’s Theatre’s school traveling show cast of “Why Mosquitoes Buzz,” front row from left, Austin Bailey, Natania Emmons, Hannah Harting, (back row from left) Andrew Bailey, Lydia Ouverson, Annaliese Emmons.
Marcus Buttweiler screams from the dentist chair as (from left) Ben Siglin, Sophia Ciavarelli, Abby Hartkopp, Claire Hahn, Addyson Hall and Lauren Jurgens rehearse for the Stebens Children’s Theatre production of “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”
Rehearsing a scene from the Stebens Children's Theatre production of "Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe" are (from left) Austin Bailey as Aslan, Sophia Ciavarelli as the White Witch and Adam Dettmer as Peter.
Stebens A Christmas Carol
Rehearsing a scene from Stebens Children's Theatre's production of "A Christmas Carol" are (from left) Lydia Ouverson, Carolyn Berneman, Paige Walker, Sydney Vogelgesang, Amelia Ouverson, Marc Murray, Natasha Orton, Noah Fredricks, Alanna Dixon, Rebecca Kadera, Sophia Ciavarelli, Braydon Pinske, Drake Davis and, in front, Andrew Boehnke.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
From left, Sawyer Goetz, Jenna Lovik, Catherine Gobeli and Ellie Seaton rehearse for the Stebens Children's Theatre production of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."
Reach Reporter Ashley Stewart at 641-421-0533. Follow her on Twitter at GGastewart.