University’s theater department puts a modern spin on a Shakespearean classic

Cast says “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet” isn’t so much a love story as it is a story of conflict


The cast put on six productions of “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.” Photo courtesy of Shelby Mack

Elizabeth Underwood, Arts & Life Writer

Don’t miss your last chance to see Washington and Lee’s Theater, Dance and Film Department production of “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.”

The university’s version of William Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet” offers a modern approach to sharing the timeless story about the conflict between two families. The production is set in the present-day and contains edgy costumes, punk-rock music, and many street-fighting sequences.

Dana Gary, ‘18, who portrays “Juliet Capulet”, encourages people to come out and see the production to remind themselves of what “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet” is really about.

“It is about so much more than what we immediately think it’s about,” Gary said. “The story as a whole is about a community of very differently-minded people trying to reach some sort of compromise. What it takes for them to reach compromise is for them to be utterly broken apart by this grievous loss of their two only children.”

Romeo and Juliet taken to a new level. Photo courtesy of Shelby Mack

Nick Mauer, ‘20, who plays Benvolio, hopes that audience members will accept the show as a warning.

“Romeo and Juliet is warning people that they need to find the right balance between being ourselves and pursuing our own desires and also being obligated to other things and other people,” said Mauer.

Director Jemma Levy believes students should come see the show to enhance their liberal arts education and experience a completely unique version of “Romeo and Juliet.”

“The work of the students involved is astonishing,” said Levy. “People should come see the show, because I think it will surprise them.”

Members of the cast said students should be encouraged to see the show because it relates to America’s current political climate. Specifically, Gary describes how “Romeo and Juliet” is especially relevant amidst today’s divisive political atmosphere.

“We tied this show in with today’s political culture in America,” said Gary. “We seem to have bifurcated ourselves into two opposing families in a lot of different ways. ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a horror story about what happens when you don’t attempt to really bridge that gap.”

The final performance of the show will be on Tuesday, March 6, at 7:30 pm in Lenfest Hall’s Johnson Theatre.

W&L’s Department of Theater, Dance and Film will next present the W&L Repertory Dance Company Winter concert. The concert will run each evening at 7:30 p.m. from March 15-17 in Lenfest Hall’s Keller Theatre.