Romeo and Juliet Delivers Modern Twist on Classic Love Story

By Amy Donovan ’15 and Angelika Kowalska ’15
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare is a classic love story, well-known all over the world. The story often becomes repetitive with so many different interpretations and representations in the media, but Ms. Liz Bommarito, director of this year’s school production of Romeo and Juliet, has found a way to break the mold.
“It’s a modern twist on a classic,” said Regina Gavagan’14, who played Juliet.
The cast incorporated singing into the production, with modern songs such as Grenade, Happy, and the Cha Cha Slide. Along with singing, dancing was put into the show with modern forms of dance such as breakdancing.
The play opened up with the chorus describing the plot. The audience found out that the students had memorized an abridged version of the original script which was definitely a challenge. However, when the first song, Grenade sung by Romeo, came on, the audience cheered as he sang along to the tunes. This was the modern twist everyone was waiting for.
The Nurse, was played by Girshel Toporia’14, who managed to capture the audience’s attention with his comical inquiries and the obvious fact that he is a man. While many may be surprised at the fact that a man was playing a woman’s part, in Shakespeare’s time this was not an odd occurrence. In fact, men played both men and women’s characters.
“Playing the nurse has been a dream come true,” said Toporia. “I’ve always wanted to play a female character, and being given the chance to play one who’s so witty and dirty has been an honor.”
The audience was in for another surprise when the dance at the Capulet’s house didn’t quite follow the script. The performers displayed the traditional hand dance of the 1500s but music cut, and the crowd went wild as one of the Montagues danced a short hip-hop piece to the song, Talk Dirty. This was followed by a traditional Bollywood dance and some popular dances such as the Cha Cha Slide, Wobble and even the Electric Slide. The modern dances and songs made the play more entertaining, but also added culture and a twist to the well-known Shakespeare play.
“My favorite scene was definitely the one where all the dances took place,” said Kadeem Adrian’15. “It was a creative idea incorporating modern day music and dance into a classic work of art.”
Heads turned as the balcony scene was performed on Midwood’s balcony located in the back of the auditorium. Purple and pink steps were pushed towards the back which made it easier for Romeo to get to his beloved one on top of the balcony. The audience held its breath as Juliet threw down her white sheet towards Romeo. It almost seemed as if Romeo was going to scale Midwood’s walls to reach Juliet, but she pulled back the sheets and returned back to the nurse.
The first act ended with the fight between the Montagues and Capulets. After the Prince announced that Romeo was exiled from Verona, there was a short intermission where the audience exchanged their feelings about the play and munched on snacks sold outside.
The final act was filled with just as many surprises. Juliet sang during the first scene, and the crowd was stunned by her voice. She received a large round of applause during her second song as well.
Sara Glaser’15 said, “Regina Gavagan’s singing was very Broadway-like and her acting was impressive.”
However, one of the bigger surprises was the guest who played the apothecary. Dr. Pysher  handed over the poison to Romeo as he acted out the role of the apothecary. He put on a wig and proudly sang his solo to the song White Rabbit. He had his round of applause as well.
“I think Dr. Pysher did a great job,” said Emily Kaufman’15. “It’s really cool that he can be in the plays since he used to be an actor he still gets up on stage and is able to captivate the audience.”
With months of hard work the cast has made a lot of memories in the process. Reginald Laine’14 remembers when he first found out he was cast as Romeo.
“When I heard I was Romeo I was blown away,” said Laine.
Gavagan said her favorite memory was during the audition process because everyone was working together and giving each other constructive criticism.
There have also been challenges involved in the production. Practice occurred almost every day and with a cast made up of seniors it definitely added on to the stress of senior year.
“For a long time I had to balance this and my classes,” said Laine.
Luz Feliz’14, who played Lady Capulet in the show, said that     getting along with everyone was difficult.
“I’ve done past productions and none have given me as much stress and joy as this one did,” said Toporia. “Even though it was a challenging I truly enjoyed myself.”
But the idea of making Romeo and Juliet a musical didn’t happen over night.
“It’s been an idea that has been swimming around in my head for 15 years,” said Ms. Bommarito.
Although Ms. Bommarito had a list of songs that she created over the years, most of the songs performed were picked by the students themselves. The song White Rabbit was picked by Dr. Pysher who also sang the song, and I Hate Myself For Loving You was a song that Ms. Pumelia, the AP of the English Department, picked.
Pulling on a production like this was not easy. Practices were held until 5 until the very last week. But in the end the students and Ms. Bommarito can agree that it was worth it.
“My favorite part was watching the performance,” said Ms. Bommarito. “The students helped each other out and truly worked as a team.”

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