February 27, 2014
Local high school students are staging an award-winning fundraiser tomorrow night.
The cast and crew of "Shakespeare's R&J" are competing next week in Mobile, Alabama. The Albemarle High School drama department came in second in a statewide competition for the all-male, 4-person play in the fall. Their finish qualified them to go on to the Southeastern Theatre Conference next week.
"It puts a lot of pressure on you but then it's really fun to experience that you're going to the next level of competition. It's exciting," said junior Aaron Hoffman, who plays Romeo and a student.
"This is all just an incredible experience. We couldn't be having more fun with all of it," said senior Tyler Missig, who plays Mercutio and Lady Capulet among other characters.
Friday night, the group is performing the play as a fundraiser for the trip.
"It starts out so funny but, by the end, it's so dramatic and so serious," said Missig. "It's just incredible to experience and see it for yourself."
"Getting to experience Shakespeare is, in itself, pretty amazing," said Hoffman. He added that, by males playing both male and female roles, the audience will experience a bit of how Shakespeare's plays were originally performed. "Everybody's doing the original way Shakespeare intended the play to be."
The director of "R&J," Fay Cunningham, said she had been wanting to put it on for a long time.
"I saw the original show back in I think 1998. I thought, when I saw it, 'this is such an incredible show. When will I ever have the opportunity to direct something like this?' Because it's very bold, very ambitious, and very courageous for high school. I have been putting it on the back burner, putting it on the back burner, and I just decided this year I would go for it, and I'm so glad I did," said director Fay Cunningham.
"It's not your usual, typical high school theater at all. Four boys playing women, both in comedy and both in serious, loving situations."
The group leaves Tuesday for the five day conference. Of the 22 schools performing, Albemarle is the first to perform.
"It was so well received and it was such a great experience for people that I'm hoping that now my four boys and my production can take it to another part of the country and, hopefully, it will be received as well there," said Cunningham.
The theatre conference presents other opportunities in addition to the competition. The students will get to participate in workshops and see community, children's and professional theatre.
If you would like to support their trip, visit the play's website here.