Shakespeare + Suess = Success! … For Parkrose High’s theater company

See why this colorful version of “Romeo and Juliet” is delighting young and old who come to see it this weekend …

Helping to get the story off to a good start, and move things along are Prolog (Tiffany Parson), Narrator #2 (Haley Lusby), and Narrator #1 (Taylor Grady).

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For their first outing this year, the Parkrose High School Thespian Troupe #1783 tackles Shakespeare’s tragic love story “Romeo and Juliet”.

But, they’re doing it with a twist –with the whimsical wordplay of Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) – told in rhyming patter, and presented with vividly-colored sets, costumes, and makeup – and even a fantastical “fixing” machine.

The Monotone family (blue) and the Capitulate family (pink) don’t know what to think about Romeo Monotone and Juliet Capitulate (on the floor) advancing their mutual amorous attraction.

Mercutio (Adriene McInerny, dressed yellow) tries to convince Romeo that his love for Juliet will only cause problems and, in that the end things will not work out.

“The show is ‘The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet’ by Peter Bloedel,” explains Parkrose High’s theater arts instructor and the show’s director, Ms. Zena.

“If Dr. Seuss had written Romeo and Juliet, nobody would have died, wrongs could be fixed by a machine – but the story would still have moral lessons. That’s essentially what the story is, in this version.”

Juliet (Llake Anderson) professes her love to herself, using her “self-speaking phone” – “Nothing is more useful to speak private stuff to; it makes it all louder so others can know too.”

Romeo (Jeffery Benson) replies, “I heard your self speaking speech, through your horn – and I love you, my love, just as sure as you’re born.”

About the story
We learn that playwright Bloedel created a mash-up of a little-known Dr. Seuss tale called “The Sneetches” with Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” when writing this play.

In the Seuss story, Sneetches are bird-like creatures – but are divided into groups. The “cool” crowd has stars on their tummies; the outcasts have no such marking. Because this story portrays the meaninglessness of prejudice and discrimination, the parallels to Shakespeare’s story are obvious.

Secretly wed by Larry the Monk (Shawna Appel), Romeo and Juliet’s bliss after this – their first kiss – will be cut short by their warring families.

With balloon swords, Tybalt (Matt Allen) and Mercutio fight for their respective familys’ honor.

Script presents comedic challenges
“We wanted to do Shakespeare again this year,” Zena said, “But wanted to present a work that more accessible to the community. It combines the challenge of performing Shakespeare, with the delight of presenting a comedy.”

Will Monk Larry’s “Magic Nuts” help Juliet escape an arranged wedding? Or is he nuts to think so?

“What? Juliet’s dead? Really Dead? In her bed?” screams Lady Capitulate (Kat Mora-Shepard) to Lord Capitulate (Kevin Ventura).

After giving his dead bride one last kiss, Romeo eats the “Cracker of Death” without the love he will miss.

Wait! Will the “Feud Fixer” make everything right, before the audience goes out into that good night?

Parkrose Stage Tech students, junior Amariah Moran, who is running light board and Kelsey Hawes, a senior on sound, know just how the story ends – whether love will abound.

Is it over? Is the story done? It’s hard to tell; the cast is still having fun!

The show is ending its three-day run on Saturday, November 20 with a 2:00 p.m. matinee. Tickets are $8 for Adults, and $5 for 18 & under and Seniors 65+.

All performances are in the Parkrose High School Theater at 12003 NE Shaver St.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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