REVIEW: Roméo et Juliette

Roméo et Juliette can be described in two words: beautifully tragic.  Staying true to Shakespeare’s original Romeo and Juliet, director Paul Curran took the audience on an extraordinary journey with his cast of the UMSMTD University Opera Theatre students.  And the University Symphony Orchestra led by conductor and music director Martin Katz certainly did not disappoint!

Cast of Roméo et Juliette (taken from UMSMTD’s Facebook page)

I have never been to an opera before so I didn’t know what to expect.  All I knew going into it is that operas are extremely long and I’ve heard many stories of people falling asleep during them!  But that was not the case with Roméo et Juliette.  Sure, the opera was five acts with two intermissions, but the cast kept the show moving right along.  The audience was captivated by the French singing (subtitles in English), the elaborate costumes, and the incredible set.

Janel Speelman and Tom Cilluffo as Romeo and Juliet (taken from UMSMTD’s Facebook page)

I honestly have nothing negative to say about the leading couple.  Juliette (played by Janel Speelman on 11/10 and 11/12, and Kara Mulder on 11/11 and 11/13) not only looked stunning, but her voice was stunning as well.  And Romeo (played by Tom Cilluffo on 11/10 and 11/12, and Darius Gillard on 11/11 and 11/13) was as charming and handsome as ever.  These two were hard not to fall in love with.  The talent between these two leads was out of this world.

Ensemble (taken from UMSMTD’s Facebook page)

Not only were the characters of Romeo and Juliette wonderful, but the whole cast truly did not disappoint.  Juliette’s nurse, Gertrude (played by Helen Hass on 11/10 and 11/12, and Olivia Johnson on 11/11 and 11/13), helped Juliette run into the arms of her loved one.  Friar Lawrence (played by David Weigel on 11/10 and 11/12, and Samuel Kidd on 11/11 and 11/13) was loveable in every way.  His emotions were captured perfectly throughout the whole show.  Stephano (played by Isabel Signoret on 11/10 and 11/12, and Blair Whiteside 11/11 and 11/13) may have gotten the biggest applause after her solo that opened up Act III, scene 2.  And Mercutio (played by Yazid Pierce-Gray on 11/10 and 11/12, and John Daugherty on 11/11 and 11/13) found any humorous moment that he could and soaked it in, leaving the audience in lengths of laughter.  As I said before, the whole cast was truly phenomenal.

Janel Speelman and Tom Cilluffo as Romeo and Juliet (taken from UMSMTD’s Facebook page)

The show of Roméo et Juliette runs on November 10 at 7:30pm, November 11 and 12 at 8:00pm, and November 13 at 2pm in the Power Center.  Student tickets are $12 each (or FREE with a passport voucher!) and general tickets are $22-$28.

Preview: Roméo et Juliette

Many people know the tragic love story by William Shakespeare of Romeo and Juliet.  However, the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance is putting on, not the play of Romeo and Juliet, but the opera Roméo et Juliette.  Staying true to the classic love story that many are familiar with, this version will be sung in French with projected English translations.  As many others can probably relate, I have known the story of Romeo and Juliet practically my whole life, but I became familiarized with it as a freshman in high school when we dove into the story.  I’m certain that this operatic version will not disappoint.


Roméo et Juliette will be performed in the Power Center on Thursday 11/10 @ 7:30pm, Friday 11/11 and Saturday 11/12 @ 8:00pm, and Sunday 11/13 @ 2pm.  Tickets are $12 for students with a valid I.D., and $22-$28 for reserved seating for all other audience members.

REVIEW: The Drowsy Chaperone

If you have yet to see a show done by University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre, & Dance, I highly recommend you start by seeing this show.  The seats weren’t completely full but by the laughter that filled the room, one would think it was oversold.

Cast of The Drowsy Chaperone-Press Release Photo

The show begins in the dark with a monologue from the star of the show, Man in Chair (Alexander Sherwin).  He describes what it’s like waiting for a show to start and he captures it spot on.  The Man in Chair puts in his favorite record, The Drowsy Chaperone, and the show comes to life onstage.

Janet Van de Graaff (Hannah Lynne Miller) and Robert Martin (Kyle McClellan)-Press Release Photo

The big opening number, Fancy Dress, drew the crowd in immediately.  All of the characters are introduced and you fall in love with them right away.  Mrs. Tottendale (Isabel Stein) is the sweet, confused hostess who can’t seem to remember that everyone is there for a wedding.  Her spit-take with her employee, Underling (Aidan Ziegler-Hansen), is priceless.  Robert Martin (Kyle McClellan), the dashing groom has a high-energy, fun tap number called “Cold Feets” with his frazzled best man George (Christopher Campbell), which was personally one of my favorite numbers!  Broadway producer Feldzeig (Riley McFarland) will do anything to stop the wedding from happening so he won’t lose his leading lady Janet Van de Graaff.  Kitty (Jo Ellen Pellman) is a ditzy wanna-be-star constantly trying to convince Feldzeig that she’s fit for the role of the leading lady.  Gangster #1 (Joseph Sammour) and Gangster #2 (Simon Longnight) stole the show every time they were onstage!  Both disguised as pastry chefs for the wedding, the gangsters were hilarious as they made pastry puns and starred in the exciting number of “Toledo Surprise”.  Adolpho (Charlie Patterson) was another audience favorite.  As a Latin “lover of ladies”, he was put on a mission by Feldzeig to seduce the bride, but amidst the chaos, ends up seducing the wrong lady.  Bride Janet Van de Graff (Hannah Lynne Miller) can’t seem to give up the spotlight, as we see her “Show Off” in her large number, doing cartwheels, high kicks, and smiling for any camera around.  Miller played a stunning leading lady.  The Drowsy Chaperone (Nkeki Obi-Melekwe) killed it in her song titled “As We Stumble Along”.  The chaperone is supposed to be making sure that Janet Van de Graaff doesn’t see Robert Martin on their wedding day, but always seems to be stumbling around with a drink in her hand.  She hits every comedic line perfectly and wows the audience in any and every song she sings.  Definitely another audience favorite.  Trix (Cydney Clark), the aviatrix, also has a stunning voice as she sings “I Do, I Do in the Sky”.  The Superintendent (Griffin Binnicker) makes an appearance at the end of the show.  He may have few lines, but he definitely makes the most of them!  And finally, you can’t forget about the ensemble (Spencer Crow, Audrey Kennedy, Carina Kay Louchiey, Christopher Washington)!  Their dancing was phenomenal and they seemed to have such a fun time onstage!  Whether they were news reporters, maids, or a plane, they helped make the show complete.

The Drowsy Chaperone (Nkeki Obi-Melekwe)-Press Release Photo
The Drowsy Chaperone (Nkeki Obi-Melekwe)-Press Release Photo

There were many people in the show within the show, but the Man in Chair was the true star.  He deserves a huge pat on the back for this role.  It must not have been easy to memorize the pages of lines, and to make sure he is continuously connecting with the audience.  A job well done on Sherwin’s part.

Man in Chair (Alexander Sherwin)-Press Release Photo
Man in Chair (Alexander Sherwin)-Press Release Photo

The music, choreography, and acting was simply spectacular.  As the Man in Chair says “Musicals take you into another world; they help you escape the dreary horrors of the real world.”  And that is exactly what this show did.  Whether you are an actor, a theatregoer, or someone who has never seen a show, I promise that you will form some sort of connection with this musical.  I highly recommend seeing this once, if not more.

Tickets are on sale online at, or you can get them at the door.  $12 for students with a valid ID and $22-$28 for others.  The show runs October 13-16 and October 20-23.  Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm, and Sundays at 2pm.

PREVIEW: The Drowsy Chaperone

The Drowsy Chaperone is literally a musical within a comedy, as the poster states.  It is a hilarious story about the chaotic events occurring before a wedding.  I had the pleasure of performing in this musical a year ago and it was honestly one of my favorites.  The show is so light and fun, and is bound to make you fall out of your seat laughing at one point or another.


U of M’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance is putting on this wonderful production and I am beyond excited to see it tonight!  The music is so much fun and the story is extremely loveable.  Later, I will be posting a more in-depth summary of the show with my review.

Shows run October 13-16 and October 20-23.  Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm.