Local Romeo and Juliet Leads Talk About Their Roles in Shakespeare Classic

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Haley Chey Lynch (Juliet) and Jacob Wadstrom (Romeo) in rehearsal.

Shakespeare’s Timeless Love Story Opens Saturday Oct 19 on The Waldron Stage

Rehearsals are in full swing at Mill Mountain Theatre for William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet! The show will open on October 19th and run until October 26th on MMT’s Waldron Stage. The classic tale of star-crossed lovers is re-envisioned in a new imaginative and theatrical telling. Shakespeare’s most famous play about love, family feuds, and inevitable tragedy takes on a new life through the work of local youth performers.

Resident Creative, Christopher Castanho sat down with the show’s two leads: Jacob Wadstrom (Romeo) and Haley Chey Lynch (Juliet) and heard what it’s like performing such a classic and iconic play at the region’s only equity theatre.

What’s your favorite part of the show?

HALEY:  I love the spectrum of emotions that Juliet feels throughout the show, I love the variety but also the complexity of how she feels. I also adore my cast members who make it such an incredible experience. Some of my favorite parts of our production are the fights, balcony scene and interesting twist we put on all of the adult characters.

JACOB: I think my favorite part of the show is also the balcony scene because it is such a cool reimagining of a scene everyone knows. I don’t want to spoil anything, but we have this ladder that I climb on, and it spins and I always feel like I’m in a movie. I find the scene so relatable because I think we’ve all experienced a night that just seems so incredible that you never want it to end.

Why is Romeo & Juliet relevant today?

HALEY: It is a forever love story just like other stories everyone knows (West Side Story, Aida).

JACOB: I think Romeo and Juliet is one of those forever love stories because of themes: questioning long-standing institutions and that kind of love that transcends all boundaries. In the original text, the conflict is between two wealthy families unnecessarily feuding, but it can serve as the perfect metaphor for how any rift between two groups can be bridged by people who don’t care about anything other than those they love, not where they come, not the inhibitions of others, nothing but love.

HALEY: Especially with the theme and view we take in this production, it’s relevance shows through the difference and gap between adults and youth. It’s just such an iconic love story through the ages, everyone knows it!

Tell me a little bit about yourself (where you’re from, how old you are, where you go to school).

JACOB: My name is Jacob Wadstrom, I am a 17-year-old senior at North Cross School and I’ve lived in Roanoke my whole life. I’ve been acting since I was in fourth grade and this is actually my third time performing Shakespeare, I was previously in The Tempest at MMTI am absolutely thrilled to be performing at Mill Mountain Theatre again!

HALEY: I’m Haley Chey Lynch, I’m 16 years old, and I was born in Roanoke Virginia. I’m an only child of two older parents and a mom of two dogs and a cat. I  have been performing for as long as I can remember and have decided to graduate early this year from Patrick Henry High School.

What makes this production special?

JACOB: I think what makes this production so special is how intimate the space is and how well this incredible cast makes the heightened language seem so natural and relatable. The world that this cast builds, under the brilliant direction of our fearless leader, Travis, is so believable because there is a mutual trust between everyone involved.

HALEY: Not to mention that we are all youth! All of us are in school, so it’s a joy to learn alongside each other in this process. We also incorporate many different themes and ideas into this production that make it so special, entertaining, and unique!

JACOB: The passion that everyone has for this piece of theatre is so inspiring that we all are constantly bringing the most we can to every scene. The venue coupled with the direction makes the audience feel like they are right there in Verona with us.

Why do you think people should come see Romeo and Juliet?

HALEY: Support the arts! Come witness the power of youth on stage in this forever story. And of course, fall in love again with the age and speech of Shakespeare and passion shown through many years.

JACOB: I hope people get a new perspective on a Shakespearian classic that is as engaging and fun as it is heartbreaking. I think people will love all of our exciting fight scenes, they’re quite reminiscent of The Princess Bride. But I have to echo Haley when I say, come experience live theatre, have a fun night and maybe even fall in love with Shakespeare.


Romeo and Juliet runs October 19 – 26 on the Waldron Stage. General admission tickets are available only at the door, 30 minutes in advance of each performance, and are ‘pay what you can’. For any additional information, visit millmountain.org.

In conjunction with this production, MMT will distribute free books to children in attendance as part of their initiative connecting theatre to literacy.

Romeo and Juliet features Jacob Wadstrom (Romeo), Haley Chey Lynch (Juliet), Kira Shelor (Nurse), Charles Meidlinger (Friar Lawrence), Isaac Bouldin (Mercutio), Caroline Weston (Benvolio), Ann Marie Thorell (Peter, Abraham, & others), Bayla Kessler (Sampson, Friar John, & others), Simon Elliott (Paris), and Ryan Ramey (Tybalt). Romeo and Juliet is adapted and directed by Travis Kendrick, associate directed by Victoria Buck, and production stage managed by Tatiana Durant.