Inside Romeo and Juliet: Compliments and complaints

By Jase Brandt   Sterling, KS — March 12, 2018, 3:24 P.M.

The Sterling College Theater department has finished another one of their productions, this time being William Shakespeare’s classic play Romeo & Juliet. There were 3 evening showings and 2 matinee showings on March 1-3 and March 5-6 respectively. However, the production was not without issues. Theater, like all forms of art, is subjective. It is up to the audience to decide whether a theater production is good or bad. Likewise, those involved in the production can decide whether or not it was good based on how it turned out and their experience in its development.

There are a number of the cast and crew who are not satisfied with how the production of Romeo & Juliet was carried out. Two interviewees had neutral to negative experiences, both of whom would like to remain anonymous. One of them is currently a student at Sterling College while the other is a member of the Sterling community. While they both fulfilled completely different roles in the play, they had very similar descriptions of their experiences. Lack of communication was an issue that was brought up multiple times by both people. The cause of the issue was primarily aimed at the play’s director, Sasha Hildebrand, saying her expectations from a college were too high and stressful for the amount of people and time that they had. There are specific examples that each interviewee gave to back up their opinions, but they will not be publicly disclosed to keep their identities unknown.

On the flipside, there are also positive things that were said by some of the other cast and crew members. I also had the privilege to interview the play’s lead stars, one of them being Romeo himself, Seth Rogers. Upon my asking of his experience of the play’s production, Seth stated, “It was sort of stressful and also fun at the same time, but…most things are like that if you like them…They’re both stressful and fun.” Upon my asking of his experience with the director specifically, Seth replied, “I don’t think Sasha was being stressful at all. I think she’s being very supportive, especially to me and Ardynn… [S]he would check up on us and make sure we were doing OK and make sure… [we were] still getting things done outside of the show…It was very genuine…No sense of just buttering me up or anything. It was just her true thoughts of what she felt… She’s very supportive and I appreciate that a lot.”

Seth’s co-star Ardynn Brooks, played Romeo’s love interest, Juliet. Her experience is similar to that of her co-star’s, Seth Rogers. Brooks explained, “It was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun.” Not only did Ardynn spend several hours practicing her role of Juliet, but she also spent several hours in the costuming department saying, “It was stinkin’ hard…I don’t know how we could have done it with less [work]…and had that many people and had it all come together the way that it did.” Upon my asking of Sasha’s directing style, Ardynn replied, “I don’t feel like it was respected…I needed every night and weekend…I think because [the show] turned out, I think that shows she knows what she’s talkin’ about.”

Overall, those who participated in Sterling College’s production of Romeo & Juliet have mixed feelings about how it all came together. As a viewer of the show, I am pleased with how the show turned out. There are things that could have been done differently, but you’ll have that with every show. I am glad that the Sterling College theater department is the first to show me Shakespeare’s original Romeo & Juliet contrasted with last month’s review of Warm Bodies, which is loosely based on the play. The next production by the Sterling College theater department will be Noises Off and will play April 19-21.