When I was in Mrs. Turner’s Freshman English class, one of our assignments included the memorization and recitation of the prologue to Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet: an eternal bestseller, tragic heart breaker, and wild teenage “romance” all wrapped up in a neat package of iambic pentameter. I sat down with my copy of the book and prepared to present what I thought would be an easy A+. . . let’s just say I wound up searching for an Old English version of Google translate after reading the first few lines. All in all, the experience taught me that reciting and understanding the writings of old Will are much easier said than done. As a result, I went into Hanover High School’s performance of the play with a huge amount of respect for professional actors of Shakespeare, let alone my classmates who had to balance this responsibility with countless other activities, commitments, and, oh yes, that small inconvenience called homework.
This year’s play was directed by the new drama teacher Mr. Jake Plummer, who I had as a student teacher in my drama class last year. I was excited to see what he had to bring to the table. Before the production even started I knew it would be really interesting to see all the characters. The cast included members of every grade, and watching the kids you walk the halls with everyday become completely different people on stage is an amazing experience. Romeo was played by freshman David Adams, and Sophomore Anna Harper took on the challenge of Juliet. Supporting roles included eleventh graders Mike Meads as Paris and Dante Nicotera as Friar Lawrence, senior Hayley Ardizzoni as the nurse, and tenth graders Macy Hohenleitner and Katie Scott as Lady Montague and Mercutio, respectively. I was so impressed with the acting I saw, especially from the freshmen. (I couldn’t imagine getting up on stage after only being in high school for a few months!) From what I saw, there was not a single mistake in the script or choreography, and the characters interacted with each other really well. I had no idea if they were best friends or absolute enemies in real life because they put the Hanover High versions of themselves aside before stepping on stage. Not only did the cast work well with each other, I also really enjoyed the way they walked up and down the aisle as members of the audience. I felt like I got to be a part of the play without all of the stress! Of all their merits, probably the most notable feat of the cast was their skill at playing dead. It will forever be a mystery to me how they could lay there perfectly still as people cried over them and not burst out laughing, or even twitch their fingers.
A play is so much more than just the actors, the crew is just as necessary, if not more so. This production crew was outstanding: transitions were smooth, the lighting was perfect and set the atmosphere for key scenes, and ticket sales at the door were efficient. The stage was set beautifully with a pair of huge painted Italian doors and a window which really enhanced the mood. The actors wore modern clothing but still fought with swords which would have been seen in the original Shakespearean rendition. This did not detract from the performance at all. In fact, halfway through the play, I was so wrapped up in the story that the actors could have been wearing potato sacks and I probably wouldn’t have noticed. The lights came back on just about two hours later, and I left feeling entertained and satisfied. All I’ve got to say is, Hanover High doesn’t just play around when it comes to Romeo and Juliet (pun fully intended!)