Shakespeare Northwest Celebrates its 15th Season

Shakespeare Northwest celebrates its 15th season in typically ambitious fashion this week, as the company opens the Skagit River Shakespeare Festival with “Romeo & Juliet” and “The Two Noble Kinsmen.”

The unique venue for the productions is once again the Rexville-Blackrock Amphitheatre, at 19299 Rexville Grange Road on the way to La Conner. It’s a one-in-a-million setting, watching talented local actors perform timeless drama in a theater carved from a former rock quarry.

Directed by Bjorn Whitney, “Romeo & Juliet” is the legendary story of two young people in love, but whose possible future with each other seems doomed, since their families are at war and have been for some time.

As the conflict between the Montagues and Capulets spills more blood, the struggle for Romeo and Juliet to be together becomes more challenging each day. But this version has a colorful twist: It’s set in the Old West, and the houses of Montague and Capulet are houses of ill repute, to coin a phrase.

Trey Hatch directs “The Two Noble Kinsmen,” not the first title that comes to mind when considering Shakespeare. It’s a comedy that revels in its dark side; two cousins vie for the affections of the same maiden, according to a news release, while hiding from a king who has marked them for death.

A jailor’s daughter is driven insane by unrequited love. There’s dancing … and a baboon. Priceless.

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“Romeo & Juliet,” “The Two Noble Kinsmen”

When: Opening weekend: “Romeo & Juliet”: 7 p.m. Friday, July 17; “The Two Noble Kinsmen”: 7 p.m. Saturday, July 18; “Romeo & Juliet”: 4 p.m., Sunday, July 19.

Performances continue through Aug. 15.

Where: Rexville-Blackrock Amphitheatre, 19299 Rexville Grange Road, Mount Vernon.

Tickets: $12 adults, $10 students, $35 family (two adults, two children). 206-317-3023, shakesnw.org orbrownpapertickets.com.

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