Star-Cross’d Lovers (Nov./Dec. 2018)

Director / designer

Star-Cross’d Lovers was something that was on my radar going back to my days as an undergrad at IU. The music drama originally known as Romeo & Juliet set to music by Don Freund received its first performance in 2008, and was in the process of launching a second production during my last year in school. However, it wouldn’t be until 2018 when I would get my first prolonged experience working with Star-Cross’d Lovers.

This was a production that I wanted to get right for many reasons. One of the performances would be held in Bloomington where I went to school during my undergrad. There was a certain point of pride to return to Bloomington as a professional, and I made certain to channel that energy into hard work and action.

I also wanted to do a good job because this would be the first time where I was in charge of nearly everything related to the project. I suggested the excerpted scenes we would use for this workshop/page-to-stage production, and ended up choosing the scenes which primarily focused on the romance between Romeo & Juliet and nearly all of Act III, excluding the prologue.

Due to the size of the project, I was also responsible for the complete design of the project, including the scenic arrangement, costuming, and lighting. I started first with the scenic arrangement, which had to be very thoughtful because of the New Music Ensemble having to be onstage for both performances. After a first draft, David Starkey pushed me to try something more creative, and I then came up with the divided orchestra layout that was used in production. I was able to create an S-curve between the orchestra that would give me all the space I needed to move the singers, while also taking advantage of the shared doors in each venue and use the layout to reflect the division between the Capulets and Montagues.

For the costume design, I was inspired by Late Gothic and Italian Renaissance costume and decided to do modern twists on various aspects of garments. I outfitted Juliet in a long skirt, long sleeves, high bust dress to reflect the fashion of the Italian Renaissance, and Romeo in a vest, banded collar shirt, and trousers to resemble the doublet, chemise, and hose of the original period. You may notice that Lady Capulet seems to be very 1920’s-style garments, but I found myself looking back to Late Gothic styles, which had long hanging sleeves and covered heads during the period. Everything was based in some sort of reference, visually speaking.

I also learned how to plot, rig, and design lighting for the first time during this project. It took a lot of self-guided tutorials, and I am mostly satisfied with the results. It really enhanced the appeal of the performance in Indianapolis, and helped some people look at the Basile Opera Center as a small performance venue again.

This was a challenging effort to lead as a director, but I think it was a valuable exercise for everyone involved. Ultimately, I was inspired by the division of the two families and the love that united them following the tragic deaths of Romeo & Juliet. Everything I did as the director was done in an effort to make the story immediate and heart-breaking, and I think the feedback indicates that this project was a success.

Star-Cross’d Lovers: Performance/Production Credits

Producer: Indianapolis Opera & David Starkey

Conductor: Don Freund

Orchestra: IU New Music Ensemble

Stage Manager: Sarah Herdrich

Romeo: Kevin Adamik

Juliet: Anne Slovin

Nurse: Emily Spencer

Friar Laurence: Michael Colman

Lady Capulet: Rachelle Woolston

Lord Capulet: Christopher Burchett

Benvolio/Prince: Nathanael Hein