Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Finding Romeo and Juliet Beyond the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse

        Have you seen Romeo and Juliet yet?  If not, be sure to come to the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse before the play closes next weekend.  And if you are sad that our Romeo and Juliet is coming to an end, perhaps you should take Benvolio’s advice to a doleful Romeo and “examine other beauties” (1.1.236), specifically the many different versions and adaptations of Romeo and Juliet that other artists have created.  
        You can find the influence of Romeo and Juliet in so many mediums beyond the stage: songs, Broadway shows, films, paintings, ballets, and operas.  The sheer number of Romeo and Juliet adaptations is an extraordinary testament to how the complexity and depth of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy lends itself to investigation by all types of artists.  Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” refers to Juliet and Romeo while Sondheim’s West Side Story is based on the feud between the Capulets and Montagues.  The film adaptations of Romeo and Juliet range from the silly animated movie Gnomeo and Juliet to Zeffirelli’s more traditional, classic 1968 film Romeo and Juliet, to the modernized 1996 adaptation of Romeo+Juliet.
            Here are three of my favorite non-film works influenced by Romeo and Juliet:
            Frank Dicksee’s 1884 oil painting Romeo and Juliet, now housed in the Southampton City Art Gallery in Southampton, England, highlights a touching embrace between Romeo and Juliet.  Visit the BBC’s “Your Paintings” website to see Dicksee’s work:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/romeo-and-juliet-17438\.
            Peter Martins’ choreography for the ballet Romeo and Juliet beautifully captures the exuberance of young love.  Visit the New York City Ballet’s website to view an excerpt of the pas de deux between Romeo and Juliet: http://www.nycballet.com/ballets/r/romeo-juliet.aspx.
            Charles Gounod’s opera Romeo and Juliet features a lovely aria in which Romeo encourages Juliet to emerge from her room so he can woo her.  Listen to Lisa Simone’s commentary and Romeo’s aria at World of Opera: http://worldofopera.org/operas/operas/item/2864-breaking-the-mold-gounods-romeo-and-juliet?pg=listen.

With so many adaptations of Romeo and Juliet, you can surely find something to tide you over until ASC’s Romeo and Juliet returns to our stage again.  

Submitted by
Samantha Smith

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