by Chris Stanton
Participants opened to raucous applause at their Friday, April 22 opening of the much anticipated rendition of the classic Shakespearean tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. The production, largely student driven, was directed by Chad Detloff and art directed by senior Marisa Melideo. Seniors Cotter Phinney and Sarah Lindstedt played the respective leads.
The rendition was dubbed “modernized” by its participants and, although the original dialogue was featured and the plot remained unchanged, many aspects of the play were indeed altered through a more current pop culture lens. For one, the costumes were updated and many of the characters’ genders were altered. The hairstyles also included much more vibrant colors and teasing than was typical in Shakespeare’s time period.
“Conceptually, the vision of the show was to create a visual palimpset, superimposing a contemporary aesthetic both in costumes and set onto a more romantic, classic, period aesthetic,” said Detloff.
The production also featured modernized combat, including a slow motion chain fight and Romeo’s use of a pistol instead of the more traditional sword. Blackouts were covered by modern music, even going as far as to include a Lupe Fiasco song and a scandalous party scene played to the backdrop of a Lady Gaga single.
The more risqué alterations made to the Chadwick rendition of Romeo and Juliet earned the production a PG-13 rating for slightly sexual content and some violence. The rating and the justification were displayed on all posters advertising the play.
“I cannot express how easily Marisa, my artistic director, and I collaborated, and I have to credit her with the truly brilliant way she brought our vision to life,” praises Detloff.
The ambitious production also featured student-constructed sets, ranging from Juliet’s window to an apothecary’s door, which was constructed almost entirely out of Sprite bottles.
“We spent a lot of time making the sets,” said senior Nicole Stanton, “The soda bottle doorway especially took a long time to make, but I think it paid off.”
The show, which was put together and produced in under a month, was initially labeled as the senior project, but later expanded to be an option for all upper school aspiring thespians for lack of actors.
“It was a great experience getting to know some seniors and juniors in such a high-energy environment,” said freshman actor Matt Beshke.
Other students recall more intriguing memories of pre-production.
“It was all so hectic I can barely separate one rehearsal from another,” sad junior actor Molly Zuckerman, “I do, however, recall Marisa Melideo giving Evan Hamilton a haircut at one point.”
The production opened to a full house, and had an equally sustained audience on Saturday night, after which the cast and crew had to deconstruct the sets and repaint the entire stage in preparation for the orchestra concert taking place the following afternoon.
Detloff concluded, “As a set of goals, and I believe we achieved all of these, I hoped that the play would be a truly collaborative effort, that we would connect with the text on a more profound level, and that the seniors would be given a final opportunity to shine onstage before graduating.”