The spring semester is underway at Delaware State University, and that means rehearsals for the spring production are as well. The College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences is putting a spin on William Shakespeare’s classic tale, Romeo and Juliet, by making it a rock opera.
Since December, the cast has been hard at work rehearsing the musical, which includes an original score by a music professor from Delaware State, Dr. David Tolley. Dr. Shirlyn Brown, the artistic director of the production, gives a bit of insight into how often they practice: “In one way, shape or form, whether it’s with me as the artistic director, with Dr. Tolley as the music director, or with Brynn Dao as our choreographer… [we practice] at least four to five times a week.”
Students were seen practicing choreography for one of the scenes involving the Capulets and Montagues fighting with each other. After dancing, they take a break and soon after begin studying their lines.
Chloé Humphrey, a student at DSU, takes on the mantle of playing one of the lead roles, Juliet Capulet. She stops rehearsing for a few moments to tell us about her experience:
“I have been awarded, as a great honor, the role of Juliet. She is a young girl and she finds true love at first sight, and her story is about fate, people’s perceptions of each other, and how hatred can divide us. So, it’s about how these two young people’s love can change the fate of this community forever.”
What sets this adaptation apart from other productions of Romeo and Juliet, is that it’s a musical. “It’s a rock opera, so it has rap, rock, soul and gospel, and it’s taken the words of a playwright and made them into a symphony,” Brown goes on to add. “It’s an honor, but also a challenge, and to be a part of the journey, to see something come to life from birth is extraordinary. And the opportunity to see the students bring Dr. Tolley’s vision to life is a learning experience, it is educational, but edifying as well.”
Romeo and Juliet is set to premiere in the Education and Humanities Theater on April 16th and April 17th at 7:30pm, with a matinee on Friday at 10:00am.