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Wherefore art thou in hunting gear?

Trina Jensen (playing Benny Montague) and Lanny Reese practice their lines Thursday.1 / 2
Christina Lexvold (left) and Lanny Reese will play the lead roles in Goodhue High School's "Romeo and Juliet in the Great Midwest." The classic play has been adapted and modernized by director Michael Butt.2 / 2

When you think of "Romeo and Juliet," camouflage, rifles and blaze orange aren't exactly the first things to come to mind.

But for the students at Goodhue High School, Shakespeare's classic play and hunting now go hand-in-hand. The students will perform "Romeo and Juliet in the Great Midwest" Nov. 17 and 18.

Director Michael Butt adapted Shakespeare's classic, translating the lines into "modern English," turning the tragedy into a comedy and moving the play's location to a piece of Wisconsin hunting ground.

"It is the season," Butt said of the hunting theme. "I thought it would be funny."

This is the first year Butt has directed Goodhue's play. He said a tight budget and a small number of people limited what plays he could do.

"I was looking for a three-act play," he said. "(All I found) had lots of people (and) they all had stationary sets."

Butt said he could "do the most with what I had" by adapting and writing his own play. Now, Butt's script calls for the Montague family to don camouflage while the rival Capulets dress in blaze orange.

"It's modern," said Leah Binondo, who will play Lady Capulet. "With this play, everyone can relate to this, but in a funny way."

So far, the student actors, who range from eighth- to eleventh-graders, say they're enjoying the novelty of the play.

"It's just a really fun play to be in," said Holly Snow. This will be the eighth-grader's acting debut, playing the parts of a deer, a DNR official and Preacher Lawrence.

For most of the other actors, however, "Romeo and Juliet" isn't their first time on stage. Still, nearly all say being in the play is providing them with new experiences.

For Binondo, Lady Capulet will be her biggest role to date. The eleventh-grader said being in plays has helped her feel more self-assured, both on stage and off.

"I finally feel that confidence," she said, adding that she's excited for her larger role.

Ninth-grader Mikayla Lawrence, who will play Lady Montague, is also taking on a more prominent part than she has ever done before.

"It's different because I never got a big role before," she said.

So far, Lawrence said the most challenging part for her is memorizing longer lines than she has had to in the past. Lawrence spends a couple hours a day working on her lines.

"You have to have a good memory," she said, adding that the thought of a larger role makes her a little nervous.

"I'll just pretend no one's there," Lawrence said of beating her nerves.

Forgetting lines is also a worry for Trina Jensen, who will play Benny Montague.

"I'm afraid I might screw them up," she said, adding that she, too, spends time on her own memorizing the script.

Romeo will be played by ninth-grader Lanny Reese, while Christina Lexvold will take on the role of Juliet. Lexvold previously starred in last year's play. For her, acting is a way to see the world in a different light.

"You get to try to be someone else," she said. "It's pretty fun."

If you go...

What: Goodhue High School play "Romeo and Juliet in the Great Midwest"

When: 7 p.m. Nov. 17, 1 p.m. Nov. 18

Where: Goodhue High School gym 2

Cost: Free-will donation

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.