The story of Romeo and Juliet has been retold many times over the centuries, and yet the Half Shadow players at the Hollywood Fringe have managed to breathe new life into this beautiful story. Through minimalist set design, multi ethnic real casting, and modern movement and dance, star crossed is a funny, tragic, beautiful retelling of a classic.
Star crossed is set on a black state, with the only set pieces used being a few boxes. The only prop pieces are a message bag, paper notes, and a few fake swords. Otherwise the actual assembly serves as set dressing, being both the wall separating Romeo from Juliet, and the famous balcony. This show could be performed anywhere there is a good stereo system, lights, and a flat stage surface large enough to hold twenty dancers in motion. The performance proves if you have ingenuity and talented players, a company does not necessarily need an expensive elaborate set design.
The casting of Star Crossed is unexpected, raw, and real. The leads are not your traditional animated beauties, but healthy normal body type mixed ethnic and beautiful in their ability to move with grace and stamina. The parents are both interracial in both families, making one realize it’s a label that divides one group from another, not a color. In essence that reflects the truth of bigotry. Its a label that causes fear and hatred, not what one sees.
The names of the cast members of the two major houses read like the guest list at a United Nations party with Victor Davila and Jocelyn Sanchez as the lovers, and Jamiel Abdelrazzaq and Ebony Randall playing the Capulet lords, and Frederico S. Cruz and Taylor Casas as the Montagues. Mark Anthony Vallejo is Tybalt, and he also coordinated the fight choreography. Kate Brogan is Benvolio. Mercutio is played by Christopher Bearden. Paris is played by Ralphie Bracamontes. Suzannah Gratz plays the Nurse. Prince Escalus is played by Israel” Izzy” Powe. Friar Lawrence by Deon L. Jones. And Balthazar by Carolina Montenegro. Color body type and race have been ignored to the extent one sees the true reality of the story of Romeo and Juliet, one for all people of all times and background, for love is truly international.
To top it off the creators of this interpretation of the classic love story Lizzy Ferdinandi and Jessie Gaupel have used modern emotionally charged music to bring the story to now. The dancing is sensual, vibrant, and acrobatic. There is one section showing the physical joining of Romeo and Juliet and a few violent fight scenes that make this production decidedly PG 13 and strobe effects not conducive to anyone with certain health issues. However if those limitations are acceptable, well worth the 50 minute run time.
Star Crossed has one more performance on Sunday, June 29, 2014 at the Complex in Hollywood at 4:15 pm. For more information about the company and show follow @halfshadowplayers on Twitter, or find their like page on Facebook.