Shakespearean classic graces Wilton High School stage

William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy of two young, star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, makes its way to Wilton High School’s Little Theatre stage this fall.

“The kids have not had that experience of doing Shakespeare in a long time,” said Chris Kozlowski, who’s co-directing the fall production with fellow Wilton High alumna Meredith Walker.

“The last thing they did that was remotely close to it was a couple of years ago with Shakespeare in Hollywood, which is a take on Shakespeare but not the same experience.”

Mr. Kozlowski said Wilton High School has not performed Romeo and Juliet in more than 10 years.

“There’s definitely a lot of hype around the idea of doing the play,” he said. “It’s enticing to a lot of students.” Approximately 60 to 70 students auditioned for the fall production.

Mr. Kozlowski said there are “a couple of stage managers, some crew, about 40 in the cast, and some kids helping out with costumes.”

Mr. Kozlowski said he and Ms. Walker want to have a “good production that’s visually beautiful and emotionally stimulating,” which required the students to learn a lot about the language of Shakespeare.

“A lot of the students haven’t performed Shakespeare before. Many of them have read Romeo and Juliet, so they’re accustomed to reading Shakespeare, but reading Shakespeare and performing Shakespeare are two completely different beasts,” Mr. Kozlowski said.

“The students had to learn to engage with the language in ways they’re not accustomed to. Shakespeare is purely emotion, so they have to start building up the skills and expressive abilities to just completely open themselves up and make themselves vulnerable.”

In order to do this, Mr. Kozlowski said, the students have been taught different acting techniques since the start of the school year, when rehearsals began.

“Four nights a week for about three hours — from 7 to 10 each night, and that’s not including the extra after-school rehearsals and workshops we’ve put together,” he said.

“I have to give kudos to the kids because they’re totally opening themselves up to the challenge of learning Shakespeare from a performance perspective and have been there to learn on weekends, after school, at night — they’ve been there the whole time.”

Mr. Kozlowski said he expects the show to be a “phenomenal” and “incredibly beautiful, moving show” that has the audience laughing at times and crying at others.

“I really just want the students to walk away with an experience they can take with them to future productions,” said Mr. Kozlowski.

“I want the students to walk away with a fresh perspective and understanding of what Shakespeare is.”

There are posters, road signs and press releases promoting the upcoming show, said Mr. Kozlowski, “and once people see the pictures, no thought crosses their minds other than, ‘Holy cow, this looks great.’”

Mr. Kozlowski said he hopes and prays “that draw of doing an original, authentic, Elizabethan Romeo and Juliet is enticing to the audience.”

“We’re returning basically to the roots of this play — it’s about the language itself and Shakespeare’s intentions,” he said.

There will be three evening performances of the high school’s fall production:

  • Thursday, Nov. 13, at 7:30.
  • Friday, Nov. 14, at 8.
  • Saturday, Nov. 15, at 4.

“I would love to have the Little Theatre be sold out for all three nights,” said Mr. Kozlowski. “These kids deserve it, and it’s going to be a quality production that warrants a sold-out audience.”

Tickets cost $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors, and may be purchased via email at whstickets@wilton.k12.ct.us or by calling 203-834-4844.