‘Romeo and Juliet’ take center stage

April 23, 2014

By Nat Edson


The UW-Whitewater theatre department will perform a rendition of “Romeo and Juliet,” the classic Shakespearean play. It’s mostly the same story many people are familiar with, of star-crossed lovers and interfamilial disputes.

This time, however, people involved with the show  have included what they hope will be an interesting twist.

This version of the show will be steampunk-themed. Steampunk is a genre in which the world is what those of the Victorian era thought would be the future. Ye olden clothing is still in vogue, steam powers advanced machines, and goggles are the height of fashion.


“It’s a story about forbidden love and family feuds,” said Marge Fry, the show’s stage manager. “Not trying to change people’s thoughts, but trying to make it accessible, fun and a little sexy.”

Fry said the production’s director, Angela Iannone, took an already slimmed-down version of the play and added her own spin to it. About two and a half hours long, the story has been trimmed of “fluff,” content that would seem boring to students.

The core of the plot remains unchanged, although added emphasis has been placed on certain elements, such as the swordfights (we were told to expect a lot of blood in those) and these changes, will appeal to students, Fry said.

“It’s really raw, it’s a sexy show; it’s beautiful,” Fry said. “It takes what Shakespeare and theater can be and makes it a work of art on stage.”

The play was chosen last year by the Play Selection Committee, and since then, preparations have been in the works to make the play as good as it can be, said Grace Felion, the show’s publicity director.

Felion said the cast and crew began rehearsing in January. The schedule has been rigorous, with the cast sometimes having two rehearsals in one day.

“It’s also a seminar class,” Felion said. “It’s insane how much they’ve been rehearsing.”


The show should be impressive for more than just the acting, Felion said. The group is committing to its steampunk twist and excitement emphasis, with elaborate costumes and sets and great care being taken to make the sword fights and dancing sequences impressive.

The general attitude has been that the show will be one of the most demanding productions the cast and crew has done, but also one of the most rewarding, Felion said.

All involved described a similar hope that the audience walk away with a sense of excitement. They said they wanted people to be surprised by how cool Shakespeare could be, especially a work as well-known as this one.

“Romeo and Juliet is a fairly monumental classic,” Assistant Director Jennifer Samson said. “To me, it’s sort of like a rite of passage for all actors to be a part of it at least once.”

The play will be put on from April 29 to May 3 in the Barnett Theatre. Tickets prices are as follows: $5.50 for students, $12 for adults, $10 for 65 and older and $7.50 for 18 and under.