NYSTI presents \Romeo and Juliet with a modern twist

To land that role, Hettesheimer spent several months rehearsing, not only immersing herself in Juliet's emotions but in the lyrical way Shakespeare wrote. "I was learning the meter, the logistical side," she said.

Holgate's script preserves Shakespeare's language; other than editing and exchanging some "wouldsts" and "thous" for more modern words, he kept the words the same.

"It's definitely the same story at its heart," Hettesheimer said, calling the Iraq setting "really kind of a backdrop."

"I would say it makes it a little more accessible," she said.

That was welcome news for guest artist Anthony CeFala, who plays Julia's cousin Tybault. CeFala admitted he was never a huge fan of Shakespeare's works.

"I don't think it's exciting enough," he said. "I think ours hopefully won't be lame like that."

In fact, CeFala was surprised at just how active his role was. Describing Tybault as a "troublemaker," CeFala said he gets in three fights before dying at the the end of the first act.

"It's really kind of physical," he said. "I'm glad, because I'm a dancer."

He'd put his dancing skills to use as a cast member with the national tour of "Mamma Mia" for the last eight years. CeFala decided to leave the show in February to return to his home in New York City.

"It was time to sleep in my own bed," he said.

But there's something funny about living in the city, he said. "It's great in theory," he said, but he found himself looking for a break from the hustle and bustle.

That break came from NYSTI, where CeFala, like Hettesheimer, served as an intern while attending Mohonasen High School.

"I owe it all to NYSTI," he said. "It's the reason where I am today."

He added that he hates to think of the theater losing its funding, as has been proposed in state budget negotiations. Hettesheimer echoed that sentiment.

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