After months of preparation, Theatre UCF finally unveiled Romeo and Juliet over the weekend, and the hard work seems to have paid off. While official attendance statistics were not immediately available, the school’s ticket site listed Sunday’s show as sold out and the theatre appeared to be packed.
Although Romeo and Juliet is one of the most well-known stories in history, Theatre UCF brought a unique take to the story by setting their version in the 1930’s and using speakeasies as the main setting. The audience seemed to respond well to the new take on the play.
“The 1930’s thing is really cool,” said Michael Dunn, a 19-year-old industrial engineering major, “I haven’t seen it done before but they’re pulling it off alright.”
Early in the performance, it would have been hard to guess that the play was a take on Romeo and Juliet. The set was designed to resemble a city speakeasy, with lots of brick and steel and many instances of soft purple or red tones in lighting.
Off to one corner sat a bar stocked with liquor where a large amount of dialogue took place. In the other corner was a bar-like seating area, and center stage was often used as either a dance floor or meeting place.
At times, the set resembled a late night city, as lights dimmed to a dull yellow, mimicking street lamps on a road and a rumbling train could be heard in the background.
“I think it’s a good twist on it,” 19-year-old electrical engineering major Carson Walker said. “It was a little crude at times, but I don’t think that’s too big of a deal.”
While the set widely differed from the classic story, the dialogue was mostly unaltered, the characters’ names were not changed or updated, and the acting was very similar to characters from the 16th century, despite being dressed in pinstripe suits and fedoras.
“The language, it was a little hard to understand at times because of the nature of Shakespeare,” 70-year-old John Dash said. “But most of us know the story so it makes sense.”
The biggest changes to the play were practical ones, such as changing the Capulet ball to a party, making Friar Lawrence a priest and swapping swords for pocket knives and guns.
The audience also seemed to enjoy the play’s acting, especially the scenes between Romeo, who was played by senior BFA acting double major Josh Goodridge, and Juliet, who was played by sophomore BFA acting major Isabella DeChard.
“I like the scene between Romeo and Juliet, their little night together. I thought that was very well acted and I thought it was very accurate to how I’ve read it,” Walker said. “I haven’t seen any mistakes from [Romeo]. I think he’s a very good actor.”
Romeo and Juliet, which is currently taking a break during the week, will start up again for its final weekend on Thursday, Feb. 23. There will be a show each night through Saturday and a final matinee Sunday afternoon.
Originally published Feb. 23