Passion, fervency, intensity: all words used to describe Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The story of this famous work is known by all; the tragic and iconic death of two young lovers, kept apart by unrelenting family households.
Although a large majority of people would be able to recite a general summary of the plot, it is ironic in the sense that many struggle understanding the text of the story. And that is not to say that people are not intelligent enough to understand each and every line that Shakespeare wrote; it is mainly due to the fact that spoken English at the time was vastly different. It was common place to speak in an almost "poetic" style, exaggerating thoughts and observations. Spoken English today, however, is "simplified:" we communicate with one another trying to use the least amount of complicated words to get our point across. One major element in Artes de la Rosa's production of Romeo and Juliet which connects old and modern speech in an attempt to sever the fear of understanding Shakespeare is music.
"Music is universal." What makes music so fascinating? Is it that it can be understood regardless of language, style, or genre? Or the incredible amount of variety to pick and choose from? We as human beings can listen to music that sounds so foreign, yet correctly interpret what the overall meaning of the song is. It brings people together, and ultimately makes us express our emotions.
What is fascinating to me is how easily the music selected for the show fits so easily within the play. Each song is plugged into the text with utter perfection, feeling almost as though Shakespeare had originally included it himself.
However, including live, performed music brings a tricky and challenging task for me. The music of the show is extremely varied: jazz, pop, even classical art songs! Switching back and forth between Shakespearean text to modern day song lyrics is difficult. Half of my brain is working furiously to make sure I am using correct technique, but also seeing how I can make the song Balthasar's own. The other half is focusing on the interpretation, making sure that not only I, but the audience as well, are understanding the events unfolding before them. Plus the nerve-racking position of having to make everything seamless.
Aside from the anxiety I feel preparing for this role, it has been a blessing as well. It's so nice not having to sing JUST classical music or show tunes.
I've enjoyed my experience thus far. The cast is talented, production team is awesome. It's been nice to do a play for a change (even if I am singing 80% of my role). Besides, now I can cross-off "Perform a Ricky Martin song while gyrating in front of an audience" off of my bucket-list. Again. :)
-Michael Diego Alonzo
"Balthasar" - Artes de la Rosa's Romeo & Juliet
September 13 - October 6
Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm
Sundays at 3:00 pmThe world’s most famous story of an impossible ‘star-crossed’ love told against a scene of violence in the streets of Havana, 1958. It is the story about a place for pleasure, power, and passion wrapped in the loving words of the world’s greatest poet, William Shakespeare. Behind this dazzling world of nightlife, glamour, and romance, the country is fraught with corruption. Feel the heat and desire from the winds in Havana, Fall in love with the passion of Romeo & Juliet.
Tickets at www.ArtesDeLaRosa.org