“Romeo and Juliet” Put Their Fate in Your Hands
Frostburg State University’s theatre department returns for its final production of the 2014-2015 school year. “Romeo & Juliet: Choose Your Own Ending” puts the fate of the characters from the classic Shakespeare play into the hands of the audience.
The theatre department warns that “With three pairs of lovers, six endings, lots of death, and tons of laughs, this isn’t the tale of star-crossed lovers you read in high school.” The production, which is directed by Mairzy Yost-Rushton, stars Habtamu Anderson as Romeo and Sara Danley as Juliet.
The students have been hard at work on this production since last semester. Kimberley Lartz, the master carpenter, said that the designers and cast started in December.
When director Mairzy Yost-Rushon was asked why she chose this version of “Romeo and Juliet,” she said, “I was intrigued by the various possibilities and by the debate embedded in the various outcomes between choice and fate. The script uses parts of Shakespeare’s original text quite often, but there is contemporary language used as well while still maintaining the iambic pentameter. Very clever references to other Shakespearean plays are often included, and we enjoyed discovering them. Each version is extremely funny and has its own set of challenges. There are always sword fights, farcical elements, some drag, dancing, and the mix of classical and contemporary in everything from props, to costumes, to music and sound effects makes this version of R and J extremely accessible and appealing to today’s audience.”
As far as audience involvement goes, Yost-Rushton said, “depending on how the audience votes at various points during each performance the story can change DRASTICALLY.” However, she adds that “The classic ‘bones’ or structure of the original is there and most of the original characters are included – with the exception of the possibility of the addition of Rosaline and the possibility of the deletion of the Friar.” Since most theatrical productions do not have the audience participate this in-depth, Yost-Rushton explained how that works. She said “There are various junctures throughout the script where Romeo has to make decisions that will affect the direction the plot takes. He stops the action and asks the audience to close their eyes (in the interest of anonymity) and vote for one of two choices. For example: ‘should I fight Tybalt or make peace with him here’ or ‘should I continue to pursue Rosaline or forget her and pursue this girl I have not met yet (Juliet)?’ The Chad and Desdemona come out and count the votes and cheerleaders (think the Spartan Cheerleaders from SNL) announce the tally.”
When asked for suggestion on what the audience should prepare for, Yost-Rushton said, “I think the best answer to this is the last two lines from the Epilogue (which remain the same no matter what version): ‘Thou has seen the ending that thou hast chose, but what thou mightst have seen, God only knows.'”
The show opens Friday, April 17, with more performances scheduled for Saturday, April 18, and Thursday through Saturday, April 23 to 25, at 7:30 p.m., with a Saturday matinee on April 18 at 2 p.m. It is recommended for mature audiences.
For reservations or more information, contact FSU Theatre and Dance at 301-687-7462, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 4 p.m. Tickets are $6 for students and children and $12 for adults. Group reservations are available.
Featured picture belongs to FSU Dept of Theatre and Dance.