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Bailey Richardson (Romeo) and AmyNicole Lee (Juliet) rehearse the balcony scene. (Photo Courtesy AHS Yearbook)

AHS Fine Arts Dept. Sets Romeo & Juliet Production

Valley Ridge, VA (Feb. 17, 2020) - Romeo and Juliet is coming to Alleghany High School.

     The Alleghany High School fine arts department will host a full production of one of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays for three shows, February 28, 29, and March 1.

     The curtain rises at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and at 3 p.m. for the Sunday afternoon matinee. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for students. Children 5 and under are free, and tickets will be sold at the door.

“Procrastination,” a local student-led band, will perform prior to the show and during intermission. The band will also make a brief cameo appearance in the famous balcony scene.

     The play, directed by Josh Hagy with the assistance of Adrienne Young, marks a departure from the musicals that usually grace the stage of Hodnett Hall in the spring.

     “Mrs. Sprouse was kind enough to let me take the reins of the spring production for this year,” said Hagy, “and I really wanted to try something different.”

     The production will stick closely to the original conditions of Shakespeare’s time, which include universal lighting, minimal sets and props, and a reliance on storytelling, acting, and the imagination of the audience. The actors have also largely been free to shape the way their characters look, sound, move, and act.

     “It’s really challenging for the actors,” explained Hagy. “This is exactly how touring troupes do this professionally across the country, and these students have really risen to the occasion. You won’t be disappointed. They don’t hold back.”

     The show centers around the love story of Romeo and Juliet, a tale that takes turns being a comedy, a love story, and, ultimately, a tragedy. Ironically, this love story is also the most combat-heavy of Shakepeare’s plays, and the cast has spent countless hours in stage combat workshops making sure the intensity of the duals did justice to the story.

     “Being in this show has pushed my boundaries with acting, trust, and combat,” said junior Layla Booth, who is bringing Tybalt to angry life. “I have expanded my abilities a lot through the stress of an eight-week show.”

     The show marks the debut of several freshmen to the AHS stage, including Bailey Richardson as Romeo.

     “It’s challenging getting every line down because there’s so much, and it’s all Shakespearean, so it's tough. And we’re so compatible as a cast that we’re laughing all the time, so it’s hard to get stuff done some days,” he said.

     Freshman AmyNicole Lee is stepping into a lead role for the first time in her young career.

     “The amount of emotion that has to be put into is huge,” Lee said, speaking of her turn as Juliet. “It’s emotionally draining to go from extreme happiness and love to sorrow and grief that quickly. The play is two hours, and you have to live that, and then you have to go off stage and calm down and go on with life.”
     Language four centuries old has proven a challenge for Sidney Donnan, a freshman who is playing Benvolio.

     “Shakespearean English is hard to remember,” said Donnan. “Remembering what needs to be said and in what order is tough because it is so different from the way we speak now.”

     The show also features several upperclassmen actors, including senior Savannah Angle as Lady Capulet. This show, however, is very different than the musical performances Angle and others are familiar with.

     “I’ve been in very scripted musicals and plays my entire life, but in Shakespeare, there are no stage directions, and there is a lot of freedom in line delivery,” she said. “The most challenging part for me was trying to understand what to do with all that freedom. I was struggling at first. I even felt awkward because there wasn’t a set place at a certain time I needed to be, but I finally found the groove.”

     Senior Jayme Bradshaw, who plays Mercutio, is discovering a love for theatre on stage.

     “I’ve never done anything like this before,” she said. “Up until this year, the thought of being on stage terrified me. Every aspect, from memorizing lines to just being on the stage, is challenging to me. But I’m glad I did it. I enjoy this immensely, more than I can describe.”

     The cast has even performed scenes in English classrooms to add a live element to the freshmen classes who are studying the play as part of the standard curriculum at AHS.

     While the performance will adhere closely to Shakespeare’s original script, the cast and directors made a few cuts and a few additions to make sure this is a version of the play that can be seen only at Alleghany High School.

     For more information, cast interviews, trailers, and more, follow @AHSPhotogs on Twitter.

     The cast of Romeo and Juliet includes: Bailey Richardson, Olivia Madsen, Sidney Donnan, Kyleigh Plott, Tori Patterson, AmyNicole Lee, Trevor Bunch, Savannah Angle, Faith Meadows, Layla Booth, Bella Hall, Katie Burgess, Lydia Armontrout, Josh Woodie, Noah O’Conner, Jayme Bradshaw, Noah Brown, and Jesse Gadd.

     The crew of Romeo and Juliet includes Jordan Davis, Marvin Thompson, Jakob Rice, Gilbert Davis, and Veronica Helvey.
From left, AmyNicole Lee (Juliet), Lydia Armontrout (Friar Lawrence) and Bailey Richardson (Romeo) rehearse the wedding scene as the Fates, Jesse Gadd, Kyleigh Plott, and Tori Patterson look on from above. (Photo Courtesy AHS Yearbook)


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