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Claremont students take Romeo and Juliet back to the 1950s

Romeo and Juliet
Sweet sorrow Romeo

It’s the classic tale of star-crossed lovers. Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, their families feuding in Verona, fall in love and end up paying the ultimate price.

Could it have been Juliet’s poodle skirt that first caught Romeo’s eye? Or perhaps she was captivated by the light glistening off of his Brylcreamed ‘do.

The drama class at Claremont secondary school is putting a spin on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The costumes, set and musical elements are all borrowed from the 1950s. The rest of the script is just as Shakespeare first penned it in the 1590s.

“When we found out, we were super-excited,” said Grade 12 student Rebecca Jorgensen, who plays “Miss Prince,” the school teacher, adapted from Prince in the original script. We make it accessible by putting it in an era that is more familiar to us.”

The 17-year-old grew up watching Grease, making it easier to identify with mid-20th century style. She has also been a part of The Ridge Playhouse’s production of Twelfth Night, set in the 1980s, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which took place in the 1960s.

Setting the plays in more modern times is a financial choice, since Elizabethan costuming is far outside the class’s budget, teacher Colin Plant said.

Expect the Capulets to sport a more polished, preppy ‘50s look in suits, while the Montagues will be all greased up in leather jackets. The mood is enhanced by a soundtrack of the time. Classic songs from the likes of Buddy Holly will set the tone as the audience takes their seats.

In the six years since Plant has been with the school, he has seen many students move on to pursue a post-secondary education in acting, which Jorgensen plans to do.

The high school productions present an opportunity for the community to support the arts at the ground level, Plant said.

“These are the stars of tomorrow. Some of these kids are going to move on and you are going to have a chance to see them begin to refine their craft.”

The show runs Wednesday through Saturday, Feb. 9-12 and Feb. 16-19, 7:30 p.m. at Claremont’s Ridge Playhouse, 4980 Wesley Rd. Tickets are $7.50, available at the door.