We at Interlochen Center for the Arts are excited to share our production of Romeo and Juliet, and thank you for taking the time to plan for and organize your viewing of the ballet. We invite you to use this guide as a starting point to explore this neoclassical ballet with your class and to complement and enhance the teaching and learning occurring in your classroom.
The guide is meant to help you and your students gain a basic understanding of the ballet, and provide an opportunity to probe more deeply into the historical, social, emotional, and cultural aspects of the production as a whole.
We can’t wait for you to view this amazing event. This dazzling and beloved ballet combines a feast for the eyes and a story that has stood the test of time.
ROMEO AND JULIET
Music by Sergei Prokofiev
Choreography and Direction by Joseph Morrissey
Costume Design by Amanda Lifvendahl
Lighting Design by Rachel Diebel
Projection and Scenic Design by Stephanie Baugher
Act 1 Scene 1: A Marketplace in Verona, Italy
The Montagues and Capulets are two feuding noble families from the city of Verona. It’s early morning, a young child sweeps the street and helps prepare market stands as Romeo, a Montague, poetically wanders about. Romeo’s best friend Mercutio arrives with their kinsman Benvolio following suit as they join the child who imitates a bird. Members of the Capulet and Montague families instantly begin quarreling before sword fighting ensues and the striking yet arrogant Tybalt of the Capulet family arrives. Tybalt attempts to instigate a fight with the charming Romeo only to be annoyed by Mercutio and Benvolio, causing further chaos and violence amongst the people. Caught in the midst of the fighting, the child is killed. The Duke of Verona is summoned and demands a truce between the families. Mercutio finds an invitation Tybalt left behind, which is for the Capulet’s ball later that evening. He mischievously suggests Benvolio, Romeo, and himself attend in disguise.
Act 1 Scene 2: The Capulet’s Garden
The young and vivacious Juliet teases her Nanny as she and her friends await the arrival of her betrothed Count Paris as decided by her parents Lord and Lady Capulet. A dress is prepared for the evening’s ball where her engagement to Paris will be announced. Juliet hesitates to wear it as she looks in the mirror and realizes she is growing up and must be married. The handsome Paris arrives and Juliet apprehensively accepts his affections.
Act 1, Scene 3: The Capulet's Ball
Guests in masquerade arrive outside of the Capulet’s home as Mercutio and Benvolio encourage the reluctant Romeo to sneak into the ball with them. Dancing ensues before Juliet arrives in her new dress. While she is wooed by Paris, she catches eyes with Romeo. Juliet dances with Paris, but is distracted by Romeo. As the guests head to dinner, Romeo and Juliet stay behind and dance flirtatiously with each other. Eventually, Juliet takes Romeo’s mask off, nervously revealing that he is a Montague before he quickly disguises himself again. Paris catches the end of their interaction and attempts to escort Juliet to dinner. Mercutio and Benvolio dance and make fun of the smitten Romeo before Tybalt aggressively enters and reveals Romeo’s identity to all of the guests. Lady Capulet returns and, more interested in Tybalt’s affections, hastily dismisses Romeo from the ball, merely viewing him as an immature young boy. Romeo says goodnight to Juliet as the guests dance and depart the ball with Mercutio and Benvolio drunkenly trailing behind.
Act 1, Scene 4: Juliet's Balcony
Juliet steps onto her bedroom balcony thinking longingly about Romeo. Below the balcony, Romeo sneaks in to see Juliet but hides when Tybalt arrives to check on Juliet before she goes to sleep. Romeo reappears and expresses his love for Juliet and the pair passionately dance together throughout the night. Eventually, to avoid suspicion, Juliet insists she return to her room alone, leaving Romeo lovestruck under the moonlight.
Act 2, Scene 1: The Carnival
It’s the annual Carnival, an event where feuds are put aside and laughter and fun reign with costumes, performances, and dancing. Romeo appears, captivated by his love for Juliet which is mocked by Mercutio and Benvolio. They persuade him to relax and partake in the dancing and fun. Tybalt arrives seeking revenge on Romeo for intruding in the Capulet ball. Mercutio jokingly challenges Tybalt to a duel. Tybalt fights with Mercutio until he is slightly harmed and, in a rage, he stabs Mercutio from behind. Mercutio comically insists he is fine until he dies in Romeo’s arms. Enraged, Romeo seeks vengeance on Tybalt and kills him with his sword. A distraught and furious Lady Capulet arrives and finds her beloved Tybalt dead.
Act 2, Scene 2: Juliet's Bedroom
Banned from Verona for the murder of Tybalt, Romeo awakes the following morning by Juliet’s side. He sneaks out through her balcony window and they bid adieu until evening. Lord and Lady Capulet arrive with Paris, reminding Juliet that she is to marry him later that day. Juliet refuses as Lord and Lady Capulet sternly inform her she has no choice in the matter. With resistance, Juliet agrees to marry Paris and is left alone. Juliet ventures to the city’s cathedral and seeks help from Friar Lawrence. He reluctantly suggests she takes a potion that will put her into a death-like sleep from which she would later awaken and then meet Romeo at the market. Juliet returns to her bedroom and, scared at first, she has a vision of Tybalt and Mercutio, both of whom give her conflicting messages about taking the potion. She sides with Tybalt and drinks the potion. Bridesmaids and a musician arrive to bring festive wedding cheer before the Nanny attempts to wake Juliet up. Believing Juliet is dead, she summons the Capulet family and Paris.
Act 2, Scene 3: The Crypt
Mourners arrive to pay their respects to Juliet as she lay lifeless in the Capulet crypt. Romeo learns of Juliet’s supposed death and arrives at the crypt. Believing Juliet is his true and only love, Romeo lays next to her and takes his life. Soon after, Juliet awakens and finds Romeo lying next to her in the crypt. She tries to wake him until, seeing a knife, she realizes he has taken his life for her. Heartbroken, Juliet stabs herself before seeing a vision of Tybalt and Mercutio, friendlier and happier as friends in death. As she dies, Juliet holds Romeo's hand to be together forever in true love.