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THROUGH THE YEARS WITH 'ROMEO AND JULIET'

1562: Arthur Brooke writes the poem "Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Iuliet," inspired by a number of earlier authors.

1753: "Romeo and Juliet" becomes the first Shakespeare play to be performed in America. Impresario Louis Hallam supervised the performance, says Saul Elkin, who besides founding Shakespeare in Delaware Park wrote his master's thesis on the staging of "Romeo and Juliet." The drama played in churches and saloons. Close on its heels came a bombastically staged "Richard III."

1830: Bellini composes opera "I Capuleti e I Montecchi," about the Capulets and the Montagues.

1837: Hector Berlioz writes dramatic symphony "Romeo and Juliet."

1867: Charles Gounod writes opera "Romeo and Juliet."

1870: Peter Tchaikovsky finishes his eternally popular fantasy "Romeo and Juliet." ("It's very corny," Elkin says, "but I love it.")

1936: British movie version of "Romeo and Juliet" stars Leslie Howard (Ashley Wilkes in "Gone With the Wind") as Romeo, Norma Shearer as Juliet and John Barrymore as Mercutio. "It was a mega-production," Elkin says.

1940: Prokofiev's ballet "Romeo and Juliet" debuts at the Kirov Theatre in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad).

1957: "West Side Story" is staged by Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins and Stephen Sondheim.

1968: Franco Zeffirelli's "Romeo and Juliet" casts actual teens Olivia Hussey (15) as Juliet and Leonard Whiting (17) as Romeo. This adaptation was the first to show Romeo and Juliet nude.

1996: "William Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet' " starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes and featured contemporary urban music.

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