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Hofstra students offer different take on Shakespeare at Garden City High School

Clockwise from top left, Hofstra University students Hannah

Clockwise from top left, Hofstra University students Hannah Schwartz, Jenna Tanzola, Jesse Eberl, Stefanie Harris, Mary St. Angelo, Alan Stentiford, Daniel Artuso, Rita McCann, Matthew Engle and Cody Dericks performed in the "Romeo and Juliet" adaptation "This Bud of Love" at Garden City High School as part of the 64th annual Hofstra University Shakespeare Festival. (March 14, 2013) Credit: Ursula Moore

After watching the first scene of “This Bud of Love,” 14-year-old Kathleen Beatty was eager to watch more.

This was her first time the Garden City High School student had watched a live performance of the one-hour adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” love story. This version takes place in modern times, specifically in Central Park on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “This Bud of Love" is part of the 64th annual Hofstra University Shakespeare Festival, which visited Garden City High Thursday. The festival at Hofstra also started Thursday and lasts until March 24.

“I like how the story was set in modern times, because it made it easy to understand. It inspired me to read the play Romeo and Juliet. I loved their performances, they did a great job,” said Beatty.

“This Bud of Love” was adapted by Hofstra University adjunct English professor Maureen Connolly McFeely and directed by Hofstra drama professor Cindy Rosenthal.

“The name of the play ‘This Bud of Love’ stems from the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet’s bud of love never gets to bloom. It sums up the whole story of Romeo and Juliet,” said Connolly McFeely.

Rosenthal created the contemporary version with a set that includes a swing set, a slide and a picnic table as a way to connect with a younger audience.

“There was a more traditional version of ‘This Bud of Love’ with a different cast and director back in 2008,” said Rosenthal.

“This Bud of Love” entails economic division between the 10-member Hofstra University cast distinguishing the two groups – Capulets and Montagues – dressed in parochial and street clothing.

Twenty-year-old Matthew Engle of Deer Park played the part of Romeo. He admitted that playing the lead role was quite fulfilling.

“I wasn’t really into Shakespeare when I was a student at Deer Park High School because the Shakespeare language was a little overwhelming, but with this being an abridged version, it’s easy to understand and the kids love it,” said Engle, who was paired with 20-year-old Rita McCann of Pittsburgh, Penn. as Juliet.

Garden City English and theater teacher Angela McLaughlin was thrilled to watch the performance.

“I think it’s important for the students to see what they learn in class executed on the stage. Shakespeare is one of the units we study as part of the curriculum,” said McLaughlin.

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