Shakespeare with a musical spin – now that’s a refreshing new way to make the Bard more accessible. Romeo and Juliet especially has been done countless of times so I was very excited to see how this production was going to translate to the stage. The idea of merging the hit TV musical series with one of literature’s most famous ill-fated love stories was a brilliant one, it’s just a shame it didn’t quite deliver with several aspects falling short.
One main aspect which disappointed was the tangible disconnect between the two source materials: it felt more like your regular Shakespeare play with Glee songs weaved into the narrative, showing little connection between the musical numbers and the narrative unfolding on stage.
While I appreciated that the production had kept true to the Shakespearean verse, I believe it would have worked better if they had gone contemporary, particularly considering the intended Glee infusion. Technical issues with the audio tracks, though not prolonged, did distract from the experience as some songs and dialogue got lost under the action on stage.
The songs selected were ones that any Glee fan would instantly identify with, particularly powerful was a chilling duet of Coldplay’s Fix You, featuring who I felt to be the two strongest vocalists out of the group. The highlight of the production for me was the innovative set design, especially the use of human props to create different spaces which added a dynamic layer to the set. I also appreciated the efforts to blur the lines between on and off stage, the actors regularly performing from amongst the audience. To the young cast’s credit, their energy and enthusiasm was inspiring.
This might not be the best option for Shakespeare and Glee purists, but it is a great opportunity to see some budding young actors strut their stuff.