The Bard visits Pelham

Published 3:21 pm Monday, April 12, 2010

Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” was the PHS theatre department’s spring production this year. “Romeo and Juliet” is the Shakespearean play in the freshman literature book so theatre teacher Jamie Stephenson invited freshman English teacher Rebecca Burnett to co-direct the play.

The directors took the stage to open the play by sharing their thoughts. “We wanted to show what happens when kids don’t listen to the wisdom of adults,” Stephenson said

“Romeo and Juliet” does remind its audience what happens when passion rushes ahead of wisdom. This play is my example every year for teaching dramatic irony. Dramatic irony is soap opera irony — when we as the audience know important information that the characters do not know.

As “Romeo and Juliet” ends, we know that Juliet is about to wake up — and she and Romeo can be joyfully reunited. Every freshman who has ever lived screams, (at least internally), as Romeo takes his poison to his lips, “Wait, Romeo! Go for a walk, drink a cup of coffee — just wait!”

Both the direction and those directed were especially wonderful. Tanner Smith as Mercutio, Lauren Hendon as the Nurse, Austin Hancock as Tybalt and several other theatre students gave another of their frequent incredible performances. Mathew Tkacik, also a PHS stage veteran, was stunningly believable as a smitten Romeo, and Samantha Beasley, called up from the chorus to the role of Juliet just two weeks before the production, was as wonderful and as wide-eyed as a teenage girl madly in love would be expected to be.

Several PHS seniors took to the stage for the first time in their high school careers, surprising the audience and themselves with their talent. Tyler Costley, as Juliet’s dad, was more paternal than any high school senior has any right to be. Laquise Harbin and Chase P’Pool also gave wonderful debut stage performances

Stephenson said, “This year we jumped in with both feet and it has been a wild ride. The kids and I could never have done this show without Rebecca Burnett. Her knowledge and advice helped us move through so much difficult language.”

This cast and these directors made their audience fall in love with “Romeo and Juliet” all over again.

Mastering that difficult language brought the rhythm and lilt to their speech that weaves us into Shakespeare’s spell, making us believe that, just this once, Romeo might hear our pleas.

Connie Nolen can be reached by e–mail at