Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan's production of Romeo and Juliet, in a style you may not have seen before. (Kathy Fitzpatrick/CBC)

Saskatoon's Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan festival is flush with romance — and with cash this year.

A romantic theme threads its way through the season's two productions, the tragedy Romeo and Juliet and the comedy The Taming of the Shrew.

What hasn't been seen at the festival in many years is a separate director for each play.

New artistic producer Will Brooks said a $60,000 surplus from last year makes that possible.

He also thinks it's a worthwhile expenditure.

"You know myself as a director for Romeo and Juliet, I'm going to take a different approach than Johnna Wright is going to take on Taming of the Shrew," Brooks said. "So people will come and see two completely separate experiences."

There is no debate that of the two picks, The Taming of the Shrew is the tougher show to mount. The story of how a spirited young woman is subdued could make an audience squirm in this era of gender equality.

But director Johnna Wright was eager to take on the challenge.

This production is set in the 1960's era of girl-group doo-wop music — and the dawning of the second wave of feminism. 

Wright's approach to the principal male character is another departure from the traditional play.

"For me what was really important with this play is, in our production, was that we saw a change not only in Kate but also in Petruchio, the man that she meets," Wright explained.

As for how he changes, Wright said the audience will have to wait and see.

The Taming of the Shrew, and Romeo and Juliet appear on alternating dates, starting on July 9 and ending on August 24.

The schedule also includes performances by DancEgypt on July 14, 21 and 28, and Dance Saskatchewan Inc. on August 11 and 18.