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Fall in Love with Paris at Dallas Theater Center's Romeo & Juliet

Arts writer Katy Lemieux falls in love all over again with the actor playing Paris in Romeo & Juliet at Dallas Theater Center. Sure, he's her husband and all, but based on his performance in this show she'd marry him twice.

Wedding planning is super hard. Like, really hard. Sometimes you just have to dump your fiancé and then kill yourself.

At least that’s what you do if you’re Paris’ fiancé. Paris is the main character in the Shakespeare classic Romeo and Juliet, produced by Dallas Theater Center and now playing at the Kalita Humphreys Theater. Paris is every girl’s dream and hot as hell. All Paris wants is to marry the love of his life, secondary character Juliet. Juliet later will have some issues with Paris (pre-wedding jitters are likely the problem). It is very unfortunate that she has to handle her anxiety so poorly. Her problem is likely also related to being a teen bride.

As is frequently the case with main characters in plays, we don’t know a lot about Paris. We have to derive a lot of from the other characters, like Juliet and her side-dish “Romeo.” (Why they named this play after them, we'll never know.) Luckily, the amazing actor, Justin Lemieux, gives us all we need to know about Paris in his performance. From his breezy conversations with Juliet’s father (played by Chris Hury) and nurse (Liz Mikel) to a beautiful little kiss between Paris and Juliet, it is obvious that this is one smitten guy who is beloved by her entire family. They couldn’t ask for a better future son-in-law!

The Capulets are having a party. We can only assume this is a party to celebrate Paris in some way. Again, context clues — Paris is there. Every father should be so lucky to marry his only daughter off to a guy as great as Paris! Paris is even a Count! We don’t really get into that too much, but he is. A subtle star like Lemieux doesn’t need the bits and pieces of his character explained to us. His presence is enough to tell the audience that yes, he is a Count.

The trouble begins when a group of punks show up to crash the party. Perhaps they didn’t get the memo about this being a party for Paris. Juliet, young as she is, is distracted by Romeo and his brash pals. Juliet is a sulky teenager who doesn’t realize what she’s giving up by brushing Paris off for this fellow. Do you think Romeo is going to get up in the night for diaper changes and let you sleep? No. Do you think Romeo is going to do the dishes before you get home from a long day at work, Juliet? Hell no. You know what Romeo is going to do? He’s going to get you involved in a really convoluted plan that is of course going to end in a double suicide. Romeo is going to be saying “Who’s Juliet” faster than you can say “Who’s Rosaline?” I guess Juliet didn’t feel anything dancing with Paris at his party before Romeo showed up.

All of this might be forgivable. People make mistakes. People get sidetracked when wedding planning gets stressful. But you don’t forget a fiancé like Paris. Because Paris is so central to the plot, it might be difficult to consider all the extra stuff going on with his fiancée, Juliet. She's a typical bridezilla, doing her best to keep the attention all on her, so there’s a lot of time when we don’t really see Paris as much as we might like. It’s possible she wasn’t even listening to her wise nurse when she called Paris a “man of wax.” A man of wax, indeed, madam.

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We should talk about the actor embodying the man of wax himself, Justin Lemieux. His Paris was phenomenal. To play a character so complex with such ease is a feat not many actors can pull off. He even has to fight Romeo in his final scene, valiantly dying at the gurney of his beloved bride to be. He joins the ranks of other classic Parises, such as Paul Rudd. He’s just as handsome as Paul Rudd, too! Fabulous hair and a handsome smile that says his wife must be one lucky, beautiful, talented woman. He probably has adorable children that he would like to support by making a career as a leading actor, too.

The entire play revolves around Justin. I mean Paris. If she hadn’t been so disobedient to her reasonable father’s wishes she never would have ended up dead in a morgue next to two other people who Romeo murdered! Paris would never murder anyone. He’s only there to be handsome and love you. It is a shame that Juliet would rather lick poison off a corpse than just marry handsome, responsible Paris.

If there is one thing audiences will take away from this wonderful play, it’s the tragedy of Juliet’s fiancé, Paris. For never was there such a tale of woe as Paris'.

Romeo & Juliet plays at the Dallas Theater Center's Kalita Humphreys Theater through February 28. Tickets at dallastheatercenter.org.

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