Shakespeare Finds a New Home in Chelsea Square

Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?

This summer, Romeo – and Juliet – are in Chelsea Square.

Mikhail Yarovoy as Romeo, and Emma Laird as Juliet, rehearse their parts in Chelsea Square by the fountain last week. The Apollinaire Shakespeare production outdoors this summer has moved to Chelsea Square, joining a number of other events that the City and its partners are staging to help revitalize activity and businesses downtown.

The bilingual, and mobile, production of “Romeo & Juliet” from Apollinaire Theatre and its partners – a return to the annual outdoor production after a year online due to COVID – are moving the beloved outdoor performance to Chelsea Square for the first time.

It’s part of what seems like a revival for the Square, with so many musical acts and other festivities going on there this summer. And with that, Shakespeare is going to be the anchor tenant of the effort.

Apollinaire Founder Danielle Fauteux Jacques said they are excited to bring the production to the Square, where their theatre is located. They will be moving the production all around the Square, too, she said – including scenes at the Fountain, in the streets, in the park and in the windows of the Apollinaire Theatre on Winnisimmet Street.

“I was talking with some others and we were throwing around ideas about revitalizing the downtown areas coming out of COVID,” she said. “We wanted to send a positive message out about Chelsea being back. The press coverage during the pandemic painted a very bleak picture of Chelsea. We wanted to send out to the world something that showed a very positive side of Chelsea. That’s when the conversation started and how we could move our production downtown to be a part of that positive message.”

Previously, Apollinaire has staged its Shakespeare in the Park shows each summer in Mary O’Malley Park, and then at the PORT Park. While they did love each of those venues, this year it seemed appropriate to join the party in the Square and help the businesses that are around the Theatre.

“We loved working in Mary O’Malley and PORT Park and Eastern Salt has been an amazing partner working in the PORT Park,” she said. “We did some amazing things there we couldn’t have done anywhere else. This summer, we didn’t feel ready to come back and do a regular Apollinaire in the Park…We didn’t think people would be able to rehearse in large numbers, but in May and June because of vaccination, that became possible. This project was kind of a unique opportunity.”

Mimi Graney of Chelsea Prospers said having Shakespeare in the Square is the anchor of their summer revitalization efforts.

“Helping downtown businesses recover from the pandemic has been a central mission of the Chelsea Prospers programming this summer,” she said. “Restaurants and cultural organizations in particular were hit hard. With a cluster of those businesses in Chelsea Square, to maximize positive impact we’ve hosted more than two dozen events in the area to drive foot traffic and tell the positive story of what Chelsea has to offer. It’s been a multi-dimensional strategy that includes building out attractive outdoor dining areas, public art, grants and technical support to the businesses, social media campaigns and events of various scales.  

“The Apollinaire Theatre is as an anchor institution in Chelsea Square and we’re glad to have this talented team as partners in the district,” she continued. “The arts are a powerful tool for building community, turning around spaces and economic revitalization. Like the theatrical performances by Teatro Chelsea at the start of the summer, these shows presented by the Apollinaire Theatre allow us to see the storefronts, sidewalks, plazas and greenspace in the downtown in a new, transformative way.”

Jacques said she hopes everything works together during their run, which starts on Aug. 14 and has two other shows on Aug. 21 and Aug. 28.

“It’s exciting and hopefully these different events will feed off each other,” she said. “The production is going to be constantly in motion. We’ll keep it short, like 90 minutes, and the audience will move around a lot. They will also be helping to determine the story. It has been super tricky to rehears, particularly the parts in the street. We won’t be able to rehearse those until the night of the show. It’s going to be an adventure, that much is certain.”

Performances are free.

Performances are Saturdays August 14, 21, and 28, all staring at 7:45 p.m.

In case of rain: 617-887-2336. Rain dates: Sundays Aug. 15, 22, 29 & Mon. Aug. 30 Pre-show begins at 6 p.m., and BearMoose Beer Garden opens at 6 p.m. Chelsea Square • in the park & street by the Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet St.

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