‘Romeo & Juliet’ & the City of Chelsea
Bilingual, immersive production takes to the streets
This month, Apollinaire Theatre Company presents “Romeo and Juliet” like Greater Boston has never seen it before. In collaboration with Teatro Chelsea and the City of Chelsea Department of Housing and Community Development, the company will stage an immersive, outdoor, bilingual adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic love story. The show runs in Chelsea Square Saturdays August 14-28 and is free and open to the public.
Historically, Apollinaire has produced a summertime show that’s performed in both English and Spanish, each language on alternate evenings. Last year it was produced as an online show. In celebration of the show returning live, “Romeo and Juliet” has been adapted to be bilingual, bringing all members of the community together at the same time.
“Certain characters will be speaking English, certain characters will be speaking Spanish, some characters will be speaking a bit of both,” says director Danielle Fauteux Jacques. “We tried to design it in a way to make it easiest for people to follow the performance in both languages.”
This upgrade is only the beginning of the exciting new adaptation. Reduced to 90 minutes, the show will weave its way through Winnisimmet Park, into the windows of the Chelsea Theatre Works building and through the streets of downtown Chelsea, and the audience will follow along.
But the audience isn’t merely trailing the production; they’re an integral part of it. Audience members become extras and live witnesses during the play, to the extent that they’re comfortable with. At the masked ball where Romeo and Juliet first meet, the audience will be in attendance. “When the audience comes up to the stage to watch the dance, they will effectively become the guests at the party,” says Fauteux Jacques. “We staged the party in the street so that people could actually come in and dance with the actors.”
The show is more than just an exciting theater experience; it’s also a love letter to the City of Chelsea. Though the performance itself begins at 7:45 p.m. each night, the pre-show begins at 6 p.m. Audience members are encouraged to come early, grab dinner at one of the nearby restaurants or a drink at the BearMoose Beer Garden that’s both part of the park and part of the performance. Actors from the show will perform a variety of acts during the pre-show. Alan Kuang, who plays Tybalt, will perform an original rap about his character and the classic story.
Every aspect of the evening is designed to delight and engage audience of all backgrounds and to show Boston all that downtown Chelsea has to offer. “Whether it’s life-changing or it’s just entertainment, I think it truly does bring joy and happiness,” says Kuang. “It brings the people together.”