Actors’ Theatre of Columbus will open its 2019 season in Schiller Park with good love gone bad.

The German Village-based theater company will perform “Romeo and Juliet” at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 23, in the amphitheater in the park, 1069 Jaeger St. in Columbus’ German Village neighborhood.

Admission is free.

All “Romeo and Juliet” performances will be at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays through June 16.

Amanda Phillips, making her directing debut with Actors’ Theatre of Columbus, said she would keep true to the story while adding some fresh elements.

“You see leather and leggings, a lot of tattoos; our actors are not trying to hide them,” Phillips said.

Women do not hold back during arguments or confrontations, she said.

“Women fight just like the men do,” she said. “They get in there and fight with each other in the big fight scene.”

Phillips said the contemporary twists should appeal to younger audiences, who might be familiar with play, but not its many nuances.

“Young people today think they know it before they know it because it’s so pervasive in our culture,” she said.

Philip J. Hickman, artistic director for Actors’ Theatre, said “Romeo and Juliet” fits in well with this season’s theme of “Tainted Love.”

“I am thrilled with the direction Amanda has gone with the play,” Hickman said. “I think what’s exciting for me is getting to see a production that honors Shakespeare, honors the tradition of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in the classic setting, while making it a little more accessible for modern audiences with some of its references.”

Opening gala

Actors’ Theatre of Columbus’ annual opening gala is slated for 6 p.m. Friday, May, 24, in Schiller Park.

Admission is $100 and includes a meal under a tent starting at 7 p.m. Dinner will be followed by the free performance of “Romeo and Juliet” at 8 p.m.

Tickets are available at theactorstheatre.org.

“We put a lot of work and effort into this,” said Carol Mullinax, immediate past president of the nonprofit theater company’s board of trustees. “It’s a lovely evening.”

The dinner will be catered by Freedom a la Cart, a local organization that supports workforce training for survivors of human trafficking.

About 170 people are expected at the gala.

“It’s really that grand kickoff, not just of ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ that first show, but the whole year,” said Shaun Brown, the president of the Actors’ Theatre board who also has two roles in the play. “I see it as a kind of way for people to share their love of the theater, too. Some people are coming to donate to Actors’ Theatre, but a lot of people are coming because they love it.”

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