Former Toodyay resident in immortal love story for theatre’s Shakespeare debut

FORMER Toodyay resident Josh Flaherty is appearing in “the greatest love story ever told” at Limelight Theatre as two star-crossed lovers come together, despite constant opposition from their warring families.

Directed by Guildford resident Peter Clark, Romeo and Juliet was first performed 424 years ago and is one of the most popular Shakespeare plays performed today – but it marks the first time Shakespeare has been performed at Limelight Theatre in its 45-year history.

Street brawls, a masquerade, hope and the best laid schemes of the well-intentioned lead to an inevitable and tragic conclusion in the immortal love story.

Flaherty plays Benvolio, part of the Monatgue family and one of Romeo’s best friends.

“He’s the middle man between Mercutio and Romeo, constantly having to be peacekeeper between the feuding families,” he said.

“Even though Benvolio is quite calm and rational thinking, he also has a playful and fun side to him.

“I’ve never done Shakespeare before so I’ve been faced with the challenge of understanding and learning what all the characters are saying.

“There’s also the challenge of living up to everyone’s expectation of Benvolio’s character because the show is so well-known.”

First stepping up to the stage last year, Flaherty has performed with Garrick, Roleystone and Limelight Theatres in Cinderella: A Fairytale, Robin Hood: The Truth Behind The Green Tights and Caught in the Net.

“I wanted be a part of Romeo and Juliet because it’s a story I’ve always loved,” he said.

“The messages of the story are still relevant today and everyone that watches the show will be able to take that with them.

“To be able to learn from, and be guided by, director Peter Clark was something that also made we want to be part of the show.”

Clark said he had gone for a contemporary take on the Shakespeare classic.

“This is to ensure the production is easily accessible for the audience – for both first-time Shakespeareans and the experienced – so they have the ability to relate and feel for the characters as the story unfolds,” he said.

“Our production designer has designed and produced a wonderful set and staging for the show.

“The overall look and feel of the production is also assisted with very specific lighting effects, music, film and costume.

“I was trained to believe that Shakespeare was written for all and should never be perceived as boring or dated – my approach to this production provides all the necessary ingredients to ensure it is not.”

Romeo and Juliet plays at 8pm September 27, 28, 29, October 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12 and 13 with a 2pm matinee October 7. Tickets are $21, $18 concession – book at www.limelighttheatre.com.au or on 0499 954 016 between 9am and midday, Monday to Friday.