(*) Ewa Procter
Photo credits: Felipe Panfili
The most famous love story of all times has been adapted into a musical! This tragedy, written by William Shakespeare between 1591 and 1595 – at the beginning of the Bard’s literary career – tells us the story of Romeo and Juliet, two teenagers who are in love, and whose death finishes by reuniting both their families: the Capuletos and the Montecchios who before this tragedy, were always fierce enemies. This play is one that had the largest number of stagings in the entire world; and these days the relationship between the two main characters is considered the archetype of juvenile love.
Back in 2016, in the June issue of “The Umbrella” (still in its printed version), I wrote about “Casa de Bonecas” (A Doll’s House). It was then that I asked my readers an important question about modernizing a play. And this was whether 21st Century audiences would prefer watching a given play staged in the way it was written, or would they accept that the text is brought to this day and age. However, keep in mind that this is by no means a new approach. I remember seeing many years ago in London one of Shakespeare’s comedies adapted to Victorian times. And obviously this was not something out of the ordinary for British audiences. It was just a novelty for me! So, the question remains here, as I will explain below.
“Romeu & Julieta” (ao som de Marisa Monte) is not a traditional Shakespeare staging one might imagine. To begin with, here the play had its text adapted by Gustavo Gasparani and Eduardo Rieche stressing all the highlights of the original text. And it also includes musical interventions, and uses twenty-five songs that are a part of Brazilian singer Marisa Monte’s repertoire. Director Guilherme Leme Garcia says the musical is timeless, as it mixes the text written in the 1500s with music from the Twenty-First Century, together with the costumes and sets moving between those two periods of time. In a way, I would say that it is a very different and interesting manner for all the young people who enjoy Brazilian contemporary music, to get acquainted with a classic playwright.
So, in keeping with the Bard, I quote William Shakespeare (1564-1616) with some of his original lines in “Romeo and Juliet”: “Give me my Romeo: and when he shall die, Take him and cut him out in little stars, And he will make the face of heaven so fine, That all the world will be in love with night, And pay no worship to the garish sun”.
The cast of twenty-four actors and actresses bring us this famous story, one that has been staged for many generations. They are accompanied by seven musicians who play live a number of different instruments, under Claudia Elizeu, the female conductor of this musical. It would be difficult for anyone to stress any performances in this cast, as it is an ensemble that, besides acting, also sings at given moments. A curiosity: Renato Rocha who directed “Ayrton Senna, O Musical” has now taken the responsibility of preparing the actors for the sword fights that are part of this “Romeu & Julieta”. Rocha has worked for a long time with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Everybody knows the RSC, so it would be useless for me to introduce their work to any of you!
“Romeu & Julieta” (ao som de Marisa Monte) plays at the Teatro Riachuelo Rio – Rua do Passeio, 40 – Cinelândia – Rio de Janeiro. It opened on the 9th of March, and is scheduled to run until the 27th of May. Performances take place on Fridays at 08:00 P.M., Saturdays at 04:30 P.M. and 08:00 P.M., and Sundays at 06:00 P.M. Prices (without discounts) range from R$ 50,00 (fifty Reais) to R$ 140,00 (one hundred and forty Reais) on Fridays; and from R$ 50,00 (fifty Reais) to R$ 160,00 (one hundred and sixty Reais) on Saturdays and Sundays. However, there should be the usual fifty percent discounts for students and senior citizens. Also, clients with the Pre-Paid MetroRio card have a 50% (fifty percent) discount when buying their theatre tickets. If you prefer to be on the safe side, as far as getting your chosen places, try to buy through the internet at www.ingressorapido.com.br.
The Teatro Riachuelo Rio is large, very comfortable, and seats 1,000 people. It is a part of an old building; and although totally remodeled, it has kept some of the interesting features that were there in the old days. Just a reminder: it used to be a theatre, and later on the Cinema Palácio, when Cinelândia had quite a number of movie houses.
“Romeu & Julieta” (ao som de Marisa Monte) lasts for two hours, plus a fifteen-minute interval between the two acts. This musical is free for all ages. There is no formal parking at the theatre, but the Metro Cinelândia Station (Passeio exit) is a block away. There are also a large number of taxis waiting at the theatre door, once the performances are over.
In closing this article, I wish to tell you that I will continue trying and selecting a variety of plays to review monthly. However, many times, although the plays are good, the runs are short. So, in order to avoid any disappointments, either I will not write about them, or await another run when the play will be on once again!
(*) Ewa Procter is a writer and a theater translator,
and Chair of the Instituto Cultural Chiquinha Gonzaga