Shakespeare Schools Festival Appraisal

On November 15th 2018, Willow Dene performed on stage at the Albany Theatre, delivering their performance of Romeo and Juliet. Below is the appraisal from Jesse Phillippi, from the Albany Theatre.

I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Willow Dene School for your fantastic production of Romeo and Juliet as part of the 2018 Shakespeare Schools Festival. It was a brilliant night of theatre, and I’d like to highlight just a few elements that really stood out. First, I would like to point out that this production was a true team effort, featuring the hard work and talents of not just Teacher/Director Charlie Walsh, but also Assistant Director Jackie Coulter, Musical Director/Musician Matt Reay. I would also like to recognise Emma, Katie and Rachel for their contributions as well as the army of over 15 teachers onstage during the show. This play clearly would not have been possible without the passion, enthusiasm and commitment of your amazing teachers and support staff. Second, the music and choreography in this show were outstanding. We opened with a glorious ensemble soundscape, followed by a vibrant song and dance at a sparkly ball that had the audience dancing in our seats. Shortly after, a delicate choreography and tender music underscoring Romeo and Juliet's palm-to-palm scene brought tears to my eyes. Third, this Romeo and Juliet featured an ensemble cast that created memorable visual pictures, such as the powerful fight between Tybalt and Romeo that was enveloped under a large red parachute. This bold, largescale imagery helped the audience imagine that the whole town of Verona was involved in the fray. Finally, I loved the featured role of the narrators in this production: they had their own microphone and spotlight and their old English was word for word. All narrators should be so respected-especially when they play such an important role in complicated story of Shakespeare! This was a vibrantly creative Romeo and Juliet that utilised live music, delicate choreography and boatloads of empathy to move their audience to tears. Performing Shakespeare’s words on a professional stage takes courage, resilience, and imagination. You and your teachers should all be incredibly proud of what you have achieved. I hope to see Willow Dene School in the Festival again next year! Jesse Phillippi