When you picture the Wild West, William Shakespeare isn’t the first thing you think of. The American West Heritage Center is trying to change that with its latest foray of fun with its newest melodramatic musical adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. While deviating a little from the classic we all know and love, award-winning playwright David Sidwell says you’ll find Shakespeare’s lines in Sidwell’s adaptation a little ‘westernized.’ “It’s no doubt that Shakespeare was a genius,” proclaimed Sidwell, “and so many of his words were just too lovely to change in any way—even for our fun, melodramatic production.” Now audience members can listen as Romeo pines “What light through yonder winder breaks” and the croons of Juliet as she says “Romeo, oh Romeo! Where in the heck are ya Romeo?” The American West Heritage Center, a non-profit organization located in Wellsville, is devoted to celebrating and exploring the heritage of the region and Shakespeare was a big part of it. “When pioneers came out West, they had two books;” explains director Kent Hadfield, “the Bible and a copy of Shakespeare’s work.” When it came time to decide on this year’s production, it was an obvious choice to choose the world’s most well-known play. “People love Shakespeare,” says Hadfield, a regular on stages across Northern Utah. “They [the pioneers] loved to act his plays for their neighbors and friends.” The tradition is still going strong today as theaters world-wide put on their favorite Shakespearian works. The music was written by Becky Hainsworth of Lindon, Utah and Marianne Sidwell, the new Director of Summerfest. Director Kent Hadfield is familiar to many audiences in the area for his frequent appearances with Utah Festival Opera, Old Lyric Repertory Company, Salt Lake Acting Company, and more. The program opens this Friday and Saturday, June 26th & 27th, and can be seen most weekends this summer through September 5th. In addition to the play, the event kicks off with a gourmet chuckwagon feast, wagon rides, and activities such as tomahawk throwing, panning for gold, roping, and much more. Gates open at 5:30, dinner at 6, and by 7 o’clock they’re ready to start the show. Tickets for the entire ‘Shakespearience’ (dinner, activities, and show) are $29.50 for adults and $16.50 for children ages 6-12. For either the show or dinner the cost is $15 and $8. To make reservations call (435) 245-6050 or visit the American West Heritage Center’s Website at
. Reservations are required at least 1 day in advance. Most will find Sidwell’s adaptation creative and entertaining, but what about those Shakespearean purists? “I hope they can relax and just enjoy a fun play!” Sidwell laughed.