Young-adult fiction thrives in the land of fantasy. Boy wizard Harry Potter still rules (as proven by Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’s 3.3 million-copy North American debut last week), and popular series such as Twilight and The Hunger Games have successfully built upon the foundation laid by classics like A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Onstage, however, this genre remains rudely displaced. Miami’s new Lost Girls Theatre aims to change that with the company’s inaugural presentation of Juliet Among the Changelings, opening this Friday and runs through August 21 at the Main Street Playhouse in Miami Lakes.
Although Lost Girls Theatre cofounders Andie Arthur and Katherine Siegel have worked extensively in the theater industry in South Florida and the Midwest, they began presenting readings and performances together in Greater Miami only recently. They’ve put together shows at the Micro Theater Miami and the Getting Lost Reading Series at the Deering Estate at Cutler, ultimately producing nine works by emerging playwrights.
“Lost Girls Theatre started out as a conversation between Katherine Siegel and me at a baby shower," Arthur says. "We had been talking about our shared adoration of Doctor Who, and this conversation evolved into a conversation about why didn’t we see narratives that full of joy and wonder on South Florida stages.”
Now, according to its website, “The mission of Lost Girls Theatre is to create a sense of wonder. We plan to accomplish that through highly visual acts of storytelling that combine the mundane with the magical.”
Juliet Among the Changelings is the first collaborative work they’ve staged under the Lost Girls Theatre moniker.
Written by Arthur and directed by Siegel, the play tells the story of a teenaged girl whose mother relinquished her in exchange for magical powers. Juliet Among the Changelings began as a draft in the style of young-adult fantasy and was introduced to the public last December during the Getting Lost Reading Series.
“I really love the genre,” says Arthur, who also serves as the executive director of the South Florida Theatre League. “More so than almost any other genre of fiction, young-adult fantasy and adventure novels feature well-developed female characters with agency. I read pretty widely, but this is a genre I always come back to for that reason.”
As a result, Juliet Among the Changelings incorporates some of the playwright’s interest in Celtic fairy tales. In particular, the story pays a sort of homage to the classic Scottish folktale "Tam Lin," in which the female protagonist saves a boy in distress.
Additionally, Juliet Among the Changelings takes place in a world without men. “The play is unique because it is a lesbian love story,” Arthur says. “I adore the agency of female characters in young-adult novels, but they tend to be very heteronormative. With this play, I wanted to create a love story that we don’t often see onstage or in young-adult narratives.”
Sofia Duemichen as Juliet and Diana Garle as Miranda.
Photo by Vyvian Figueredo
In terms of production, Juliet Among the Changelings has evolved into a multifaceted work. Arthur and Siegel fiercely represent the South Florida theater community, personally through their respective day jobs and especially through Lost Girls Theatre. Juliet Among the Changelings features a cast composed of all local actors.
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In particular, Juliet Among the Changelings marks the professional debut of high-school graduate Sofia Duemichen, who will move on from New World School of the Arts to Rutgers University this fall. Additionally, Jim Hammond and Ronni Gerstel of Puppet Network, South Florida’s premier puppet company, have designed shadow puppets to add a fanciful, playful element to the work.
As Siegel wrote earlier during the rehearsal process: “Now it’s time to see if all of our ideas and insights, plans, and designs will come together in the way I’ve envisioned them... Our show is already coming together, and I honestly couldn’t be more proud or excited.”
Juliet Among the Changelings
8 p.m. Friday, August 12, through Sunday, August 21, and 2 p.m. Saturday, August 13, at Main Street Playhouse, 6766 Main St., Miami Lakes. Tickets cost $20. Visit lostgirlstheatre.com.