Review: ROMEO AND JULIET at Center Theatre At Seattle Center

For Shakespeare fans who also happen to love boygenius

By: May. 06, 2024
Review: ROMEO AND JULIET at Center Theatre At Seattle Center
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Review: ROMEO AND JULIET at Center Theatre At Seattle Center
Sarah Harlett, Alegra Batara, Morgan Gwilym Tso,
and Andrew Lee Creech in Romeo and Juliet 
at Center Theatre at Seattle Center. Photo Credits: Giao Nguyen

The biggest challenge of pulling off a show such as Romeo and Juliet is finding new ways to keep the audience interested when we all know what happens. If you’re going to put on a production of a play that has been endlessly adapted, performed, and studied for longer than any of us have been around, it has to be fresh and exciting. Fortunately, Seattle Shakespeare’s production of the famed work does just that. Innovatively directed by Sheila Daniels, the reimagined production of Romeo and Juliet is now playing at Center Theatre at Seattle Center.

As the story goes, an age-old feud between two powerful families erupts in bloodshed and tears when we meet our titular characters in Verona. Two young people who have been taught to hate each other since they were born, but they find themselves fighting this urge when they come face to face and it’s love at first sight. If you don’t already know, you can imagine how that ends. 

For us, we meet our characters in a modern setting with the music of Florence & The Machine and Dua Lipa serenading and guiding us through the story. This modern approach to the soundtrack, coupled with Costume Designer Jocelyne Fowler’s strategy of dressing our characters in jeans and rompers, instantly makes the text more relatable. Sure, we haven’t all been in a life-altering short-lived relationship, but we can all find pockets of ourselves in the text.

The 10-person cast features Alegra Batara (Juliet), Shawn Belyea (Lord Capulet/Apothecary), Miguel Castellano (Mercutio/Lord Montague), Andrew Lee Creech (Friar Lawrence), S Franco (Tybalt/Lady Montague), Morgan Gwilym Tso (Romeo), Sarah Harlett (Nurse/Prince), Josephine Keefe (Lady Capulet/Sister Joan/Abram), and Karin Terry (Benvolio/Paris). 

Review: ROMEO AND JULIET at Center Theatre At Seattle Center
Alegra Batara and Andrew Lee Creech in Romeo and Juliet 
at Center Theatre at Seattle Center. Photo Credits: Giao Nguyen

Without a doubt, the highlight of the show for me was Sarah Harlett’s portrayal of the Nurse. Harlett didn’t miss a single comedic beat, driving the audience to laughter with every line and bit. It was evident that there was something deep inside of her driving her character's actions, and I don’t think I’ve seen the Nurse played quite as intriguingly as she did. This is definitely one of the moments where I would love to see a character spin-off featuring Harlett.

Another standout is Andrew Lee Creech as Friar Lawrence. Similar to Harlett, Creech delivered his lines with unbeatable comedic timing, it’s hard not to watch him when he’s on the stage, and I found my eyes gravitating his way to see how he was reacting to each absurd moment knowing I would get a good laugh out of it. 

Our Romeo and Juliet, Morgan Gwilyn Tso and Alegra Batara, respectively, possessed the perfect balance of naivety and passion. Beginning the show with an energy similar to sunshine, Batara portrayed Juliet’s downward spiral beautifully and full-heartedly, allowing us to feel each emotion with them. Tso possesses the same ability to evoke deep feelings from the audience, watching their descent into misery and desperation felt like I was watching Romeo’s story for the first time. 

Our characters play on a relatively and strategically simple set, designed by Robin Macartney, with large moving pieces that can be reconfigured into the various locations in the show. The simplicity of the set leaves the quality to rest of the shoulders of the actors, and each one measures up. 

Luckily, I think this show has something for everyone. If you like Shakespeare, this will be an easy favorite, if you’re hesitant on the Bard but love boygenius, I can see you loving this. As the years go on, ensuring art is relatable and accessible to all is paramount, and Seattle Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a star-studded example of this.  


Seattle Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet plays now until May 19 at the Center Theatre at Seattle Center. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit: https://www.seattleshakespeare.org/




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