In the Moment: Interview with Director Stevie Zimmerman on Special ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Performance

Inspiring generations of theater-goers and music lovers alike is one of the aims of Director Stevie Zimmerman by connecting the talents of the professional Fairfax Symphony Orchestra (FSO) with the music of Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet with The Bard’s Romeo and Juliet text.

Stevie Zimmerman. Photo courtesy of Fairfax Symphony.
Stevie Zimmerman. Photo courtesy of Fairfax Symphony.

In an interview, Zimmerman explained the idea behind the Romeo and Juliet theatrical performance melded with the Fairfax Symphony musical work this way; “creating ways of engaging audiences using different media and forms is a great way to explore the music and deepen the audience’s experience at the concert. The Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet suite pretty much follows the narrative line of the play so we thought it would be fun to add in the characters, portrayed by actors from the area, bringing everything even more to life.”

There will be a cast of four of the DC area’s fine professional actors including Sara Barker (Juliet), James Whalen (Prince), Elizabeth Pierotti (Nurse Liz) and Jacob Yeh (Romeo) on stage. (Actor bios are below). Zimmerman will also narrate moments at the Center for the Arts event in Fairfax, VA.

“The actors and I will be close to the audience for the most part, in front of the orchestra,” said Zimmerman. “Between each moment of the suite, the actors will present a short scene from the play that connects to either the piece the orchestra has just played or is about to play, so the ‘action’ of the story moves along, musically and dramatically, side by side.

What is also unique about the performance, is that performing side-by-side with the musicians of the Fairfax Symphony will be the Fairfax County Youth Orchestra All-Stars. The Youth Orchestra features outstanding high student musicians from across Fairfax County under the direction of the FSO’s Music Director Christopher Zimmerman. The nearly twenty youth orchestra members were selected through a competitive audition process. With about 188,000 students, the Fairfax County Public School system is the largest public in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the 10th largest in the United States. “The All-Stars reflect Fairfax County’s diverse, artistic achievements and cultural leadership and is an indication of its vibrant future.” noted the FSO’s Christopher Zimmerman.

Students in the 2018 Fairfax County All-Stars Youth Orchestra include: Benjamin Ascoli, Soni Bae, Vincent Carter, Huay Din, Angel Estrada, Andrew Gantzer, Colin Hill, Liam Johansson, Michael Lee, Stephanie Manning, Anna Paek, Irene Paek, George Pekarsky, Daniel Shen, Katherine Yang, Alan Zhen and Yilun Zhou.

“I can’t wait to hear these talented, student musicians from across Fairfax County in this rare opportunity to perform with the Fairfax Symphony,” said Sharon Bulova, Chairman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Inviting audiences to the combined symphony orchestra and theatrical performance Stevie Zimmerman said, “It doesn’t get more romantic than this! Bring your valentine…..If you love Romeo and Juliet this is an opportunity to hear and see it in a completely different way. If you don’t know it or haven’t seen the play or heard the music this is a wonderful introduction to both.”

Fairfax Symphony Orchestra including theatrical scenes from Romeo and Juliet will be performed on February 3, 2018, at The Center for the Arts Concert Hall at George Mason University – 4400 University Drive, in Fairfax, VA. For tickets call (888)-945-2468 or purchase them online.

Note: Cast bios are below:

James Whalen (Prince): The Little Foxes at Arena Stage; After the War at Mosaic Theatre Company; The Sisters Rosensweig at Theatre J; NSFW at Roundhouse Theatre; Colossal and Da at Olney Theatre Center; Technicolor Life and Boeing Boeing at Rep Stage; Ghosts, Tribes, The Dresser, The Beaux’ Stratagem, Time Stands Still and Betrayal at Everyman Theatre; Hamlet for We Happy Few, Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center; STAY and Two Bit Taj-Mahal for Theatre for the First Amendment; and Dracula at Actors Theatre of Louisville. He has also worked with The Shakespeare Theatre Company, Open Circle Theatre, and St. Mark’s and the Chernukin Theatres in New York. Film and TV credits include VEEP, Raltat, Money Matters, and A Beautiful Mind. He earned his MFA at The Catholic University of America and is a proud member of Actors Equity.

Sara Barker (Juliet): is a DC-area actor and company member at WSC Avant Bard, Rorschach Theatre, Factory 449, and The Klunch. Recent credits include WSC Avant Bard: Emilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight (Emilie), King Lear (Edgar), Othello (Desdemona), Orlando (Orlando), Mary Stuart (Elizabeth), Six Characters in Search of an Author (Stepdaughter), The House of Yes (Jackie-O), The Cherry Orchard (Varya), and Lulu (Lulu). Credits also include Factory 449’s 448 Psychosis and Closetland, Rorschach Theatre’s A Maze (Oksana), Scena Theatre’s The Importance of Being Earnest (Algernon). NYC credits include The Brick’s King Lear (King Lear), Hipgnosis Theatre’s The Winter’s Tale (Paulina), and devised works with directors Lear DeBessonet and Josh Fox. Sara is a graduate of St. John’s College

Elizabeth Pierotti (Nurse Liz): is delighted to be joining the Fairfax Symphony for Romeo and Juliet. Most recently she appeared in Mosaic Theatre’s production of Ulysses on Bottles. Prior to that, she appeared in Well as Ann Kron at 1st Stage where she previously appeared in The Glass Menagerie and The How and the Why. Other credits include The Apple Family Plays: Sorry, Regular Singing, Sweet and Sad, and That Hopey Changey Thing, (Helen Hayes Nomination, Best Ensemble,) The Steward of Christendom, and Silence, Cunning Exile (Studio Theatre); The Women and The Time of Your Life (Arena Stage); The Grapes of Wrath and Inherit the Wind (Ford’s Theatre); Never Swim Alone (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company); The Well of Horniness, Shaker Heights, and Little Criminals (Source Theatre); After the Orgy, and Come and Go (Scene Theatre); The Taming of the Shrew (Washington Shakespeare Company); Marathon ’33 (Horizons Theatre); Etta Jenks (Fourth Wall Productions). Ms. Pierotti trained at the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory.

Jacob Yeh (Romeo): The Hub Theatre: Peekaboo, The Late Wedding, Studio Theatre: Chimerica, Vietgone (April 2018), Edgar & Annabel, Theater J: Yellowface, Shakespeare Theatre Company: Julius Caesar, Folger Theatre: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Ford’s Theatre: A Christmas Carol, 1st Stage Tysons: Shakespeare’s R&J, The Game of Love and Chance, Fuddy Meers, Take Me Out, Trevor, The Farnsworth Invention (Feb 2018), Constellation Theatre: Journey To The West, Synetic Theater: The Wizard of Oz (June 2018), Imagination Stage: Anime Momotaro (HHA-TYA), P.NOKIO, Wake Up, Brother Bear!, Cinderella: The Remix, Adventure Theatre-MTC: Five Little Monkeys, Jumanji (HHA-TYA), Holes, Just a Dream, dog & pony dc: Courage, Beertown, Pinky Swear Productions: Bondage, Be Here Now, The Welders: Carolina Layaway Grail

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David Siegel
David Siegel is a freelance theater reviewer and features writer whose work appears on DC Theater Arts, ShowBiz Radio, in the Connection Newspapers and the Fairfax Times. He is a judge in the Helen Hayes Awards program. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and volunteers with the Arts Council of Fairfax County. David has been associated with theater in the Washington, DC area for nearly 30 years. He served as Board President, American Showcase Theater Company (now Metro Stage) and later with the American Century Theater as both a member of the Executive Board and as Marketing Director. You can follow David's musings on Twitter @pettynibbler.


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