On Thursday April 7, Choate Rosemary Hall hosted Romeo and Juliet – The Choice, presented by WSHU Public Radio and the SHU Community Theater. This innovative performance was co-created by Choate’s Director of the Arts and choreographer Sandra Shih Parks and internationally acclaimed pianist Frederic Chiu. Visual designs for the performance were created by Yujin Kim ’23 and Jake Neff ’23.
Romeo and Juliet – The Choice is an immersive performance which reimagines the classical ballet composed by Sergei Prokofiev, allowing audience members to choose between Prokofiev’s happy ending, where Juliet awakens before Romeo takes his own life, or the more traditionally-known score that mirrors the ending of Shakespeare’s play. Though Prokofiev originally wrote the score for the happier ending, his final published score was true to the original conclusion of play.
The performance was preceded by a panel of four faculty members who debated the merit of both endings. Courtney Barker-DeStefano (HPRSS), Amber Hodge (English), Aaron Rathbun (Spiritual Life), and Bari Robinson (Arts) discussed the nature of innovation, literary canon, the necessity and joy of adaptation, and the notion of Shakespeare’s original play as a work of history. The audience of Choate community members watched the ballet and voted for the ending during intermission.
Adaptation won out, with the community choosing to view the happier ending.