Romeo and Juliet A Bellevue Youth Theatre Production - 2016

When I began the process of directing Romeo and Juliet I was euphoric and also terrified beyond measure. I had cast a female, age 14, to play Juliet and a male, 16, to play Romeo. Neither had any experience performing Shakespeare’s work and I immediately began to wonder if I had bitten off more than I could swallow.

But it quickly and easily became the greatest piece I have ever directed.

In an attempt to lighten the load of the dialogue, we incorporated Evanescence music into the production. I can feel you start to question me, but I promise it gets good. Large pieces of dialogue were cut and replaced with underscoring and an actor’s responsibility to portray emotional events without words. The most astounding was the scene in which Tybalt and Mercutio meet at the end of Act 3 to quarrel.

Here's the original text for that scene:

Here's our version:

In our script the cast of “Montagues” and “Capulets” entered the stage lead by their victors and moved in careful choreography until Mercutio and Tybalt met in the center, as the music began to rise they touched swords and the first swing was matched with a quick surge of sound.

Romeo calls out and attempts to shield Mercutio from Tybalt, he is unsuccessful. Mercutio calls out

“A plague on both your houses”

Tybalt is slain, Benvolio drags Romeo away and it’s over. Taking a 25 minute scene and condensing it into a generationally appropriate 5 minute, intense, fight sequence.

One of the best casting decisions was to place a young woman as Tybalt. She appears feisty and fierce, but when you engage with her in casual conversation you will find that she is the most endearing and polite young lady.
In using music in this way I was also able to bring my actors to a new height in their abilities. The young Juliet was a member of her school’s band and dance team, and young Romeo plays drums, guitar, and more. They each responded to the music in extremely powerful ways. The feelings invoked by the music inspired their characters and gave them the understanding and strength to create incredible performances.
I was so proud that I spent the duration of opening night in tears. I cried when Benvolio first addressed Tybalt, again as Romeo and Juliet met on the dance floor. My crying turned to sobs as Tybalt and Mercutio fought, again as Juliet battled with her father, and in that last scene where my young Juliet knelt on the floor with her dear lord and found him not breathing, when she called out with conviction “Romeo!” I was absolutely done for. I barely remember the end of that evening as my eyes were too worn out to absorb anything else.

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