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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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.
"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
KeywordsAdolescence, Current Events, Death, Friendship, Love, Marriage, Parenting/Family, Politics, Religion
- Strong Language
- Mild Adult Themes
- 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
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
- 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
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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