Young actress gets dream role as Juliet in Civic production


For Rebecca Piñero, the role of Juliet Capulet in “Romeo & Juliet” was always one she desired.

“I’ve been a Shakespeare fan since I was in middle school,” she said. “I’ve loved reading his plays, and Juliet was just one that I always knew that I wanted to play. So, I was really honored to be cast in it and it’s been a lot of fun. She’s a dream leading lady, and she’s one of my favorite female roles in Shakespeare.”

The North Central High School senior plays Juliet in Civic Theatre’s production set for Feb. 9-24

“I think she’s one of the most well-rounded characters that he’s written,” Piñero said. “She’s got the biggest character arc in a lot of Shakespeare plays. So, she always just seemed like so much fun and she seemed like such an interesting character to explore and to be able to portray.”

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Piñero said her mother,  Angi Parks, was her Shakespeare director in middle school.

Parks plays the nurse in the play. Parks said she doesn’t think director Emily Rogge Tzucker knew she was Rebecca’s mother when she cast it because they have different last names.

“I haven’t been on the stage in 21 years, so it’s a really fun return for me,” Parks said. “Becca was the one who said, ‘Mom, you need to audition for this,’ and we’re having a really good time doing it together.”

Parks, a Carmel High School graduate, is a former professional performing artist in New York City.

“That’s where I met my husband and we knew we wanted to raise our kids somewhere that we could actually afford to raise them,” Parks said. “This was just a good move for us.”

Piñero said she has been encouraging her mother to return to acting for a few years.

“I think that it makes her really happy,” Piñero said. “So, I was really excited when it worked out. And for us to be in roles that parallel a mother-daughter relationship, even though she’s not playing my actual mom, is like really special. We were just really excited to be able to be in this show together.”

Parks said she tells people that the nurse’s role is “mostly to love Juliet and that makes it really easy.”

While Piñero envisioned herself as Juliet, Indianapolis resident Kendrell Stiff never saw himself as Romeo.

“For me, I never knew that Romeo was one of those characters that I’d even ever get to play,” Stiff said. “I auditioned thinking more like, ‘Why not? What could go wrong-type of deal.’”

When he was offered the role of Romeo, he said he was shocked at first.

“I didn’t ever think of myself as like a Romeo-type character, but I am so grateful because this has been a very eye-opening experience,” Stiff said. “I’ve learned so much from Emily. She’s literally the best director I’ve had, point blank, period. This so far has been one of my favorite productions and roles I’ve ever played.”

Stiff, who graduated from Franklin Central High School three years ago, said he didn’t see himself as a romantic leading character.

“I’ve either played like the funny types or the very different drastic type,” Stiff said.

For instance, Stiff performed as Angel, the drag queen, in Civic Theatre’s production of “Rent” in 2022.

The main challenge is it’s the first Shakespeare play he has ever performed in, but the language has become easier as rehearsals have progressed.

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Van Voorst

Fishers resident Kelsey Van Voorst plays a few roles.

“I sort of serve as the storyteller/narrator,” said Van Voorst, a Carmel High School graduate. “I’m also playing a few servants here in there, the apothecary and Friar John. I’m on stage for a good portion of the play, even when I’m not acting or speaking.”

Tzucker, who teaches at Ball State University, said throughout her career as a singer, director and actor, she has either mostly directed Shakespeare plays or musicals.

“Before the pandemic, I directed the first Shakespeare play Civic had ever done, ‘Much Ado About Nothing,’” Tzucker said. “The costumes will be contemporary and some in Shakespeare’s time. The story is timeless.”

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