Synetic Theater’s production of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ will leave you speechless on Valentine’s Day

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Romeo & Juliet' at Synetic Theater (Part 1)
Zana Gankhuyag (Romeo) and Irinka Kavsadze (Juliet) star in "Romeo & Juliet" at Synetic Theater. (Courtesy Synetic Theater)

Are you looking to leave your date speechless with a romantic trip to the theater on Valentine’s Day?

Check out a special “silent” production of “Romeo & Juliet” at Synetic Theater in Crystal City, Virginia, through March 24.

“I mean it’s only the greatest love story of all time,” Managing Director Ben Cunis told WTOP. “This version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ is a wordless performance done with our signature style. It’s physical, it’s beautiful, it is very symbolic and powerful and it is an adventure to come in and watch it at our theater. You’re gonna watch great performances by spectacular actors, they move and perform beautifully together, you’ll fall in love all over again.”

If you come on Valentine’s Day, there’s even a special pre-show reception in the lobby.

“Our ‘Lovers & Friends’ event is today, Valentine’s Day, this evening before the show,” Cunis said. “The show is at 8 p.m., ‘Lovers & Friends’ starts at 6:30. … It’s to celebrate the special folks in your life, whether you’ve got a date or a friend or just yourself, you can come chill with us right before the show. There’s wine, there’s desserts, some lovely music, you’ve just got to get a ticket to the show and I guarantee that ticket is gonna be well worth it.”

Based on William Shakespeare’s classic 1594 play, the tragic tale of star-crossed lovers unfolds in Verona, Italy, where Romeo and Juliet fall in love despite rival families who are sworn enemies, the Montagues and Capulets.

“Zana Gankhuyag is our Romeo, he actually was one of our teen performers a long time ago and came up with this company, he is an incredible dancer, an incredible performer, a fan favorite,” Cunis said. “Irinka Kavsadze was also one of our teen performers, a longtime member of the company, she performed on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ in Georgia. … She’s an incredible, beautiful, passionate, powerful performer. … Both of them together, sparks fly.”

Synetic has staged this wordless production since 2008 with six Helen Hayes Award nominations over the years.

“I actually played Romeo when we created it in 2008 and it was a hallmark of my early career,” Cunis said. “It’s a fantastic show and the music from it still plays in my ear sometimes. … Most of the music is original music by our resident composer Konstantine Lortkipanidze. He’s been with the company a long time. The sound is like you mix classical, electronic music, a little bit of rock ‘n roll. … It’s Stravinsky and Radiohead mashed up together.”

Visually, the set design features symbolic gears of a clock as the tragic lovers run out of time.

“It’s set within the gears of a giant clock, we use dance, we use mime, we use acrobatics, there’s some incredible fight sequences, you use everything available to you, between the music and the movement and expressions,” Cunis said. “It’s just all on another level. It’s dance, acting, performance, movement, all of it in one. … The costumes have a very elegant but steampunky feel. … Just some of the most striking images you’ll ever see on a stage.”

Find more information here.

Listen to the full conversation here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Romeo & Juliet' at Synetic Theater (Part 2)

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Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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