SIOUX CITY | Everybody knows how the story of William Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet" ends. Star-crossed lovers meet an early demise, right? 

Well, what would have happened had they lived? That was a premise posed by playwright Lorenzo Sandoval.

The artistic director of the Iowa Shakespeare Experience in Des Moines is currently in residence at Morningside College as part of the school's Dimmitt Fellows program.

Sandoval's "Romeo and Juliet: Thrice-Told Tales" -- a finalist in Cambridge University Press's 2016 international Shakespeare as Interpreted by the Next Generation of Great Playwrights competition -- is being presented at 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Morningside's Klinger-Neal Theatre, 3700 Peters Ave.

"Romeo and Juliet had a fiery passion that we associate with young love," he explained. "However, it's hard to keep that fiery passion alive as the years go by."

This is why Sandoval's play explores Romeo and Juliet as teenagers, a middle-aged married couple and, ultimately, a much older couple reflecting upon a life spent together.

The bulk of the play occurs during the middle years when Romeo's going through a midlife crisis and Juliet is getting an invitation to the wedding of her former suitor, the handsome, wealthy and frequently divorced Count Paris. 

"Romeo's in a professional rut while Juliet is looking back to the love they once shared," Sandoval said. "That's quite the change for Romeo, who had formerly been so stalwart and Juliet, who had previously been so strong-willed."

However, such emotions are what keep the couple interesting to modern audiences.

"This is certainly a reinterpretation of Shakespeare's vision," Sandoval said. "But this also keeps him relevant."

A longtime Shakespeare scholar, the Quad Cities native has frequently acted and directed in productions of Shakespeare's plays. 

"When I attended Morningside as a student in the early 1970s, I appeared in a production of (Shakespeare's) 'Measure for Measure,'" Sandoval said. "So, I guess that means I have a long history of bringing the Bard to the Morningside campus."

Indeed, Sandoval didn't just write "Thrice-Told Tales"; he'll also be directing this version in addition to playing the part of Romeo as an older man.

"In 'Thrice-Told Tales,' we'll have three sets of Romeos and three sets of Juliets," he said. "Even though the stories will be told separately, all the couples will interact during a pivotal moment."

Sandoval said that even the greatest love affairs can cool over time. This simple passion gives way to other emotions as a couple matures.

Even through the decades, a couple's love can endure and grow stronger.

"You can't remain a teenager forever and everyone must grow up," Sandoval said. "Romeo and Juliet begin to appreciate that. This will make them stronger than ever before."

Is parting really such sweet sorrow? It won't be when you live life with a partner by your side.

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