'Romeo And Juliet' Ups The Intensity At Shrewsbury High School

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Nick Silverio, left, and Arsanuos Abousetta duel on the stage of Shrewsbury High School. Photo Credit: John Swinconeck
Nick Silverio, right, and Arsanuos Abousetta duel on the stage of Shrewsbury High School. Photo Credit: John Swinconeck
Zack Georgian as Romeo, right, rehearses with Arsanuos Abousetta, who plays the ill-fated Tybalt. Photo Credit: John Swinconeck
"Romeo and Juliet" director Jennifer Micarelli-Webb coaches her actors. Photo Credit: John Swinconeck
Fortune's fool: Romeo (Zack Georgian) mourns his fate after killing Tybalt (Arsanuos Abousetta). Photo Credit: John Swinconeck
Cast members of Shrewsbury High School's production of "Romeo and Juliet." Photo Credit: John Swinconeck

SHREWSBURY, Mass. — Someone was screaming bloody murder in the Shrewsbury High School auditorium on Thursday.

"Tybaaaalt!" cried Shrewsbury High School student Zack Georgian before chasing Tybalt around the auditorium and onto the stage, both of them clutching swords. After a furious series of thrusts, slashes and parries, Georgian delivered a fatal blow.

"I am fortune's fool!" Georgian bellowed, before fleeing the stage.

That was all part of the rehearsal for Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," which premieres at the high school next month.

While the play is recognized as the ultimate tragic love story, there's more to the story than romance and suicide.

"There is quite a bit of action, quite a bit of sword fighting," said director Jennifer Micarelli-Webb.

To make the fighting scenes as intense and believable to the audience as possible, Micarelli-Webb brought in her friend and theatrical fight specialist, Chris Cardoni. Cardoni, with fight partner Melissa Sine, instructed the actors on the art of theatrical fighting. Cardoni has worked as a scenic designer, actor and director in addition to his work as a fight choreographer.

Nick Silverio, who plays the hot-headed, duel-happy Mercutio, said learning the fight sequences was similar to learning choreography. So while swords are clashing and scraping together, the action is all controlled by the actors.

"When we first auditioned, we were told that it was going to be raw," Georgian said. "It is extremely intense."

In addition to capturing the play's intensity, Micarelli-Webb also wanted to modernize what is arguably the Bard's best-known work. So while the swordplay is left intact, the costumes have been updated to a reflect a cool, 1950s feel derived from the show "Mad Men."

Micarelli-Webb said that, because Romeo and Juliet were teenagers, the characters resonate with many high school students. However, it's one thing to read the play in a literature class. It's quite another to see it acted on stage.

"Shakespeare is meant to be performed," she said.

"Romeo and Juliet" will be performed Friday, Nov. 9 and Saturday, Nov. 10, in the Shrewsbury High School Auditorium at 64 Holden St. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for senior citizens and students. Tickets can be purchased at the door or ordered online through musictickets@shrewsbury.k12.ma.us. You can also call the ticket hotline at 508-841-8300, ext. 1088.

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