People vs. Friar Laurence: The Man Who Killed Romeo and Juliet

by  Ron West, Phil Swann

Full Length Musical, Comedy  /  6m, 3f

"Hysterical—West and Swann have shrouded the tale with witty story devices and a bright cloak of catchy songs that add to the ribald humor while moving the story along in the best traditions of musical theatre." —Chicago Sun Times

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People vs. Friar Laurence: The Man Who Killed Romeo and Juliet

by  Ron West Phil Swann

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People vs. Friar Laurence: The Man Who Killed Romeo and Juliet

  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    6m, 3f
  • Duration


    120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre


    Adaptations (Shakespeare)
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult

Additional Info

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The People Vs. Friar Laurence, the Man Who Killed Romeo and Juliet, is the Romeo and Juliet story told from the perspective of  Friar Laurence. It was created using the following formula: Troubled teenagers + fueding families + political intrigue = musical comedy.   The show, a smash hit for Chicago Shakespeare Theater, is the funniest mash up of Shakespeare, Gilbert & Sullivan, sketch comedy, and American theater you've ever seen.

IMPORTANT:  While all audiences will enjoy the play, it includes some strong language some producers may be uncomfortable with, so the authors have provided an appendix to the script wherein the coarser language has been redacted.

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"Hysterical—West and Swann have shrouded the tale with witty story devices and a bright cloak of catchy songs that add to the ribald humor while moving the story along in the best traditions of musical theatre. —Chicago Sun Times

"The People vs. Friar Laurence, the Man Who Killed Romeo and Juliet, a new musical comedy at the Tamarind, is a fast-moving freight train of an entertainment that carries a full load of laughs.” - LA Times

"Whip-smart, intensely amusing … a blast…" - Chicago Tribune

"The funniest new show of the season…a musical score as clever as you'll hear this side of Stephen Sondheim….” - Copley News Service

“Creators Ron West and Phil Swann vigorously attack the elements of Shakespeare's story, loosing the Bard's words and adding a blizzard of laugh-inducing moments that ramp up the original story line. This is a land of witty songs, wacky characterizations and silly modern references that fit together like warped pieces of a very old puzzle.” - Chicago Sun-Times

“The People vs. Friar Laurence does to Romeo and Juliet what Mel Brooks did to Robin Hood and westerns, though it may be even wittier.” - Lansing City Pulse

“Ron West and Phil Swann’s droll redux is a splash of Law and Order stirred into a musical-comedy concoction that’s equal parts vaudeville and Bard.” - LA Weekly


  • People Vs. Friar Lawrence: The Man Who Killed Romeo and Juliet
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Performing Groups

  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Dinner Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Shoestring Budget
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups


  • Caution Strong Language Strong Language
  • Caution Mild Adult Mild Adult Themes

License details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.



  • Time Period: Contemporary, 16th Century / Elizabethan
  • Duration: 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting: Director Ron West writes, "Originally, I just used two piano benches on an otherwise bare stage. In later productions, there was a little suggestive scenery. I put Juliet's chamber and the balcony scenes right. I put the dungeon left. I put the street scenes and the Friar's cell (where the Friar lives) center. The whole plays best if you have a lot of entrances; in Chicago we had nine. Above Juliet's chamber was a field of stars, like The Big Dipper. Above center stage was a Christian cross. Above or near the dungeon was a statue called 'The Lovers.' So the audiences sees (left to right) 'star....cross...lovers.' See what I mean?"
  • Additional Features: Audience Participation/Interactive, Physical Comedy, Play w/ Music, Stage Combat
  • Features / Contains: Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes


  • Musical Style: Classic Broadway, Pop/Rock
  • Vocal Demands: Moderate
  • Orchestra Size: Piano Only
  • Chorus Size: Small

Song Samples

It's a Beautiful Day in Vienna
See Other People
True Love To Me
It's a Pity You're Not Me
Hello, Drink Up
Why Wherefore Art Thou?
What a Pity I'm Dead
Friar Lawrence's Fault
Take My Ring
You Understand
The Ones Who Started it All
It's a Beautiful Day for A Wedding
O Woe
The Score / Friar's Prayer
Thank You for Dying First


6m, 3f
FRIAR LAURENCE (tenor-baritone)- claims he tried to keep the peace between the Capulets and Montagues, but all his good intentions are met with ruin. His defense is little match for the Prince's prosecution, and he spends the play desperately trying to exonerate himself. The same actor plays Juliet's Nurse, who a. complains a lot and b. thinks she is a lot more desirable than she is.
PRINCE ESCALUS (tenor-baritone) - is good cop and bad cop rolled into one, making it very difficult to win any argument with him. He is intent on remaining in power and is using the Friar's plight as leverage. He has a smiling face and an evil heart. He also plays Paris, who's main attribute is he is a lousy match for Juliet.
ROMEO (tenor) - is lovesick for Rosaline and is subject to fits of crying. He and the Friar are great friends. He and Mercutio are acquaintances, though Mercuito thinks otherwise. With good intentions, he makes some bad choices, ultimately leading to his ruin.
MERCUTIO (tenor-baritone) - is, as Shakespeare said, in love with the sound of his own voice. His lines come from Romeo and Juliet, so the other characters can't understand him. He thinks he's great, but he's kind of lonely, since the other characters try to get away from him. This casting track requires a chamaeleon, as the same actor plays An Officer of the Law, Lord Montague, and the rock and roll Apothecary.
GREGORY (tenor-baritone) - is an illiterate Capulet servant who, while dumb as a post, displays occasional flashes of brillance. The same actor plays Tybalt, who is basically a bully and troublemaker.
LORD CAPULET (bass) - is anxious to marry off Juliet. Drunk, loud, and angry, but kind of a ladies' man.
JULIET (soprano) - is headstrong, smart, and not without a flair for the dramatic. She wants to use Romeo to help annoy her father, but somewhere along the line genuinely falls for him. Also plays her own brother, Sampson, and other small roles.
LADY CAPULET (soprano) - When the role was written, the term MILF didn't exist, but that's what she is. She is trapped in a marriage of convenience that seems like love to her.
BENVOLIO (alto) - Romeo's best friend
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Cast Attributes

  • Ensemble cast
  • Cross gender casting
  • Roles for Teens
  • Flexible casting
  • Room for Extras
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)
  • Parts for Senior Actors

Casting Notes

It takes 6 men and 3 women to do the play. There is a little leeway in the doubling, but one actor must play the Prince and Paris, one actor must play the Friar and the Nurse, and one actress must play Benvolio and the Executioner. The production would welcome a small chorus to augment the bigger group numbers.


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Ron West

Ron West co-wrote the book, music, and lyrics for The People vs. Friar Laurence: The Man Who Killed Romeo and Juliet and has written and directed many shows for The Second City, including the Jeff award-winning Curious George Goes to War. With Phil Swann, he has also written Shakespeare's Greatest Hits, Vocal Arrangeme ...

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Phil Swann

Phil Swann's career in the entertainment industry has spanned more than 30-years as a composer, author, playwright, performer, and producer. A short list of his work includes the hit Off-Broadway musical, Play It Cool, Outer Critics Circle nominee for best new musical; The People vs. Friar Laurence, the Man Who Killed ...

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The People Vs. Friar Laurence was first presented by David Castellani at the Tamarind Theater in Los Angeles in January 2004. It was subsequently presented by Chicago Shakespeare Theater in May 2004. The cast included Nicole Parker (Mad-TV, Wicked), Keegan-Michael Key (Key and Peele), and Brian Gallivan (Sassy Gay Friend).

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