Added on 06-Dec-2006
By Mark Ginocchio
Published December 5 2006
STAMFORD - The Westhill High School production of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" will have a head-banging twist.
Supporting characters will include rock legends Freddie Mercury, Robert Plant and Kurt Cobain.
"We wanted it to be a version of the play that is accessible for different ages," producer Danielle Waring said. "It will be accessible to the student population because 'Romeo and Juliet' is a part of the curriculum and it's accessible to the parents because of the music."
The production, directed by Joe Celcis, incorporates a modified version of the text that eliminates the iambic pentameter and uses simpler language.
The most groundbreaking aspect of the production is the use of contemporary music and costumes. Rather than frills and tights, the warring Capulets and Montagues will be portrayed in a Gothic look - lots of black clothing and eyeliner - and Japanese Samurai wear.
Music will be used in some of the large-group scenes, including the Tybalt-Mercutio duel and the ball where Romeo meets Juliet. During a rehearsal last week, Waring was tight-lipped about which songs will be used, but the sounds of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" blared from the auditorium.
The use of pop culture was a surprise, even to the students.
"When I first heard what we were doing, I was a little skeptical," said Daniel Jimenez, a senior who plays Lord Capulet. "But once you hear it, it's amazing."
Senior Mark Nechols, who plays Romeo, said he thought it would be similar to Baz Luhrmann's 1996 cinematic recreation of the play, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, which was set in modern times.
"But this version, with the way the music is used, is completely different," Nechols said.
Cecilia Medyna, who plays Juliet, said the director earned the cast's trust.
"We have faith in our director," Medyna said. "I thought I would give it a shot."
Senior Chris O'Connor, who has never acted on stage before, had always wanted to play Mercutio in "Romeo and Juliet." Not only does he get to do that, but as the main character in the scene incorporating "Bohemian Rhapsody," O'Connor also will emulate one of his father's favorites, singer Freddie Mercury.
"My father was a huge Queen fan, so I got to check out all of his DVDs and music videos," O'Connor said. "I got to do some great background research."