With a beautiful set reminiscent of Italy, a witty nurse, and a comical best friend, Romeo and Juliet takes you back to a time where the only thing standing in the way of love was an acrimonious family feud. Phoenixville Area High School delivers all of this, and more, with their production of Romeo and Juliet.
Romeo and Juliet is the captivating tale of two star-crossed lovers who fight against a bitter, long-standing family feud so that they can be with one another. Together, they deal with disapproving family and friends, and unwanted marriages yet still manage to stay in love. Written by William Shakespeare, the tale takes place in the charming, sun-soaked town of Verona, Italy. While there have been exceptional reproductions, mockeries, and spoofs of Romeo and Juliet, Phoenixville's production brings home the comedy Shakespeare intended that isn't always evident when the play read in a high school English class.
Andrew Ball's Romeo was at first a susceptible young man who later transformed into a steadfast defender of his love for Juliet as he deals with not so supportive family and friends. Ball was able to convey Romeo's deep feelings for Juliet and make the audience sympathize with his difficult position as he chose between love and family. He also proved himself to be an agile performer as he hopped up and down walls, lattices, and terraces, all the while reciting Shakespeare's verbose prose and doing so with much ease and grace.
The comedic highlight of the show was Mercurio, played by Jack Beran. He added levity to a play full of animosity and hatred. Delivering each line clearly and comically, Beran aptly demanded the audience's attention and laughter. When Mercurio was killed by Tybalt (nicely played by Dante Collazo) his charming and comedic presence was greatly missed on the stage.
Another outstanding performance was provided by Ashley Spina who heroically stepped at the last minute to play the Nurse. Even though she needed to use a script onstage, it was hardly noticeable as her comedic performance was outstanding and had the audience laughing the whole time. With her old lady posture and gait, Spina's nurse was both convincing and comedic as she constantly harped on Juliet for her love affair with Romeo.
A most admirable effort was made by the stage crew to move a pretty, yet very heavy set constantly between scenes. Though it sometimes took a lot of time, the stage crew pulled together to make it work. The Musicians played by Mary Ann Odete, Emily Gallina, and Anne Moses added something unique to the show. It is admirable that they coordinated the performance by themselves and managed to make it sound very professional. It was a nice addition when they played the music live, onstage as part of the play.
Overall, Phoenixville's production of Romeo and Juliet was a mixture of motivated actors, a hardworking stage crew, and creative musicians. They all worked together to deliver a production full of laughter and passion, captivating the audience from start to finish.