Romeo and Juliet star Bally Gill joins young Blackpool actors on Grand Theatre stage in most famous love story ever told

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Never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

The star-crossed lovers burst onto the Blackpool stage this week with passion and reckless abandon against a modernised backdrop of a gritty industrial estate, marred by knife crime and the age-old rivalry between two equally respected, equally deadly families.

Romeo and Juliet, by the Royal Shakespeare Company

Romeo and Juliet, by the Royal Shakespeare Company

But despite the tragic fate of the titular characters, Bally Gill, inset below, who plays Romeo at the Grand Theatre, said he believes the story is a portrayal of true love.

He said: “I think it’s love at first sight. But also I think it’s an intellectual companionship where they finish each other’s sentences; they have a sonnet that they are talking to each other in.

“I do think it’s love at first sight, but also a progression of love.

“I do see it as a love story and how love can conquer all.

LEFT TO RIGHT: Emaleigh Clark, Lily Coulson, Bally Gill, Finley Hough and Madeline Bell

LEFT TO RIGHT: Emaleigh Clark, Lily Coulson, Bally Gill, Finley Hough and Madeline Bell

“The character and the way he is very reminiscent of how I was when I was younger. I can see a lot of myself in that part so I don’t worry too much.

“I see him as someone who is a young man who happens to be from Coventry, a young south Asian man.

“I remember when I started I was thinking I might have to jump into something else, what I have seen Shakespeare to be, but we’ve all brought it to ourselves really. We’ve brought aspects and attributes of ourselves to those characters.

“This has been my first big role.

Bally Gill

Bally Gill

“It’s incredible to be a part of this company, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and to be playing such an iconic character as well, and to do our version of it is something that I’d never think I would see.

“I don’t think I ever imaged we would do this version for this company and that’s what makes me proud to be a part of it.

“The Blackpool stage - we have just arrived here - and I’ve been looking at how incredible and grand and amazing it is, and I can’t wait to play it.”

Bally, 26, who is from Coventry, has been with the Royal Shakespeare Company for three years. He previously performed in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, Vice Versa by Phil Porter, Salome by Oscar Wild, and in the RSC’s annual Mischief Festival.

He is joined on stage by leading lady Karen Fishwick, (Juliet), and four Blackpool 13-year-olds hand-picked by their teachers to act in the chorus, setting the scene for the two households both alike in dignity.

Lily Coulson and Emaleigh Clark come from Montgomery Academy, and Finley Hough and Madeline Bell come from St Mary’s Catholic Academy.

Lily said: “It started with us taking drama for GSCE, and then the Royal Shakespeare Company visited our school and asked for two students to take part in the performance.
“It’s very nerve-wracking, but it’s exciting at the same time.”

Emaleigh said: “It can be nerve-wracking if you haven’t been on the stage very often, but if you practice it gets easier.
“I was actually in Schools Alive the other week, but that was one of the first times I have ever been on stage.”

Finley, who last year played Macbeth in a school festival, said: “I think it’s spectacular. I love it.”

Madeline, who also acted in Macbeth with Finley, said: “It’s not as nerve-wracking as people think because honestly you can’t really see people when the lights are in your face, and as long as you do the best performance you can, everyone is going to be proud of you.”

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Romeo and Juliet will run at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre until Sunday.

Tickets cost £20 to £25 for evenings and £20 for matinees. Discounts are avilable for concessions, 18 to 26-year-olds, and groups of more than 10 and 20.

Call the box office on (01253) 290 190 or go online at www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk.