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Romeo and Juliet: William Shakespeare needs no justification. And the Shakespeare Project 2005, an ambitious summer-long festival now onstage at New Theatre, holds the immense promise of some of the most exciting drama the world has known. Romeo and Juliet, which will be followed by The Merchant of Venice in July and Macbeth in August, already makes good on much of that promise. Rafael de Acha's direction is sensitive and swift. And the best performances -- from Euriamis Losada's irresistible Romeo to Kimberly Daniels's humorous and heartbreaking Nurse -- reveal shining facets of the kaleidoscope that is Shakespeare. Here are beautiful actors persuading us that American English is the way to make this verbal music truly sing. There is real life in this festival. -- Octavio Roca Through July 3. New Theatre, 4120 Laguna St., Coral Gables; 305-443-5909.
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Summer Shorts: Think of it as channel-changing -- live, fast, and without the remote control. The most demanding theatergoers, and those with the shortest attention spans, are sure to find something to love in this festival: a whole new play every ten minutes or so. Summer Shorts 2005, also known as America's Short Play Festival, is enjoying a dizzying tenth-anniversary run at the University of Miami's Jerry Herman Ring Theatre before moving to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in July. Wherever you catch it -- and catch it you should -- the promise is rich in this celebration of what artistic director Stephanie Norman calls "the explosive energy of our region and the nation's best talents, and a singular mission to bring something completely different, fresh, and innovative to South Florida audiences." Amen. There are two different programs, billed in Fort Lauderdale as "Aloha Shorts" and "Bermuda Shorts," with different times, happy hours, and picnic options. Established writers such as the inimitable Paul Rudnick are represented alongside eighteen-year-old Andres Solorzano, whose play Dogsh*t receives its world premiere here, directed by Madcat's Paul Tei. And that's just scratching the surface of the frantically giddy works generated by the festival's ten actors and seven directors in sixteen plays that range from deadly serious to seriously funny. Summer in the city is anything but slow. -- Octavio Roca Through June 26. Jerry Herman Ring Theatre, 1312 Miller Dr., Coral Gables; 305-284-3355.