Theatre UCF takes Romeo and Juliet to the prohibition era | NSM Today

From: NSM Today
Number of sources: Three
Word Count: 665
Date of Publication: February 15, 2017

Joshua Goodridge has plenty of experience with Shakespeare, acting in plays ranging from A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Much Ado About Nothing, but playing Romeo in Theatre UCF’s take on Romeo and Juliet has been very unique.

“When we started to talk about some of the ideas about how the whole thing was gonna take place …it just sounded amazing,” the 23-year-old BFA acting double major said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

While practically everyone knows the story behind Romeo and Juliet, where two 14th century lovers fight to be together despite a hatred between their families, Theatre UCF is adding an interesting twist; the story will take place in 1933, during the prohibition era.

“We’re putting our own personal spin on it, setting it in 1930’s,” Goodridge said. “It’s all about the jazz age and prohibition and all that kind of stuff we’ve sprinkled into our play.”

In this version of the play, which will open on Feb. 16 and run through Feb. 26, Romeo and Juliet belong to rival families who are fighting for control of their cities speakeasies and alcohol distribution.

“Our director, Be [Boyd], wanted to jazz it up a little bit,” stage manager Alex Jaruszewski said. “We’re doing kind of toward the end of the Prohibition, so alcohol is a big factor.”

While the dialogue has been tweaked to match the play’s new time period, the traditional story was left largely untouched. But practically every other element of the play had to be reimagined.

“All the costumes, the scenery, all of that, like it’s styled after the 1930’s,” Jaruszewski said. “We’re not gonna look like we’re in Shakespeare’s time, you’re gonna get a really big jazzy feel from the set, from the costumes, from like a lot of the technical elements.”

A lot of time also went into Romeo and Juliet’s production. The design process began with meetings in the fall semester and, except for winter break and a few inbetween, production has been ongoing since then.

“Rehearsals actually started last semester,” stage management coordinator Claudia Lynch said. “To give a little bit more time to explore Shakespeare and the language.”

Another change that was made to fuse the story with a 1930’s setting was the addition of dance numbers. There are three throughout the play, including one that takes the place of the prologue.

“It’s kind of there in place of the prologue and it’s to kind of like introduce everybody to the story and like who the characters are and stuff like that,” Jaruszewski said. “It helps develop the story and it’s a fun thing that was added to the script.”

Given that Romeo and Juliet is one of the most well known plays ever written , it can be difficult for one performance to stand out. But Goodridge isn’t shying away from the opportunity to play one of the most iconic characters in all of literature.

“I think that I bring something that no one else can bring because no one else is Joshua Goodridge,” he said. “What I like to say is ‘if I was this character in this situation, what would I do?’ and that really helps not to get stuck in what everyone thinks Romeo is or like comparing Romeo to what people might see in movies or other stage productions … it puts a perspective on it that no one else has seen before.”

After months of planning and preparation, the cast and crew are excited to finally show off the finished product to their audience, even if it’s a story many of them already know.

“I’m finally ready for it to be Thursday so that everyone can see the hard work that we’ve put in and get a little taste of this world that we’ve been able to create,” Goodridge said. “I want the audience to be so involved in our world, even though they know what’s gonna happen at the end, I want them to be like ‘no, don’t do it Romeo! She’s still alive!’”

About Christian Simmons 38 Articles
My name is Christian Simmons, and I recently graduated from the University of Central Florida with my master's degree in integrated business management. My undergrad degree from UCF is in journalism. I'm passionate about sports in all its forms. I've had internships with the Sun Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, NPR affiliate WMFE and CBS affiliate WKMG. I'm also the co-founder and editor of Knight Sports Now, a student publication that has covered UCF sports since 2017. As a freelance reporter, my stories have appeared in the Dallas Morning News, the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, The New Orleans Advocate, The Advocate in Baton Rouge, La. and the Baltimore Sun, among others.