Arts school teams in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ take-off

Anoka Middle School for the Arts programs are joining forces to present “The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet.”

Anoka Middle School for the Arts upcoming comedy “The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet” is a collaboration of the arts, English language, music and theater departments. Pictured are AMSA actors: Travis Wickland (Lord Capulat), Colton Brown (Benvolio), Jonah Schmitz (Romeo) and Logan Douglas (Mercutio). Photo courtesy of Jefferson Fietek

Anoka Middle School for the Arts upcoming comedy “The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet” is a collaboration of the arts, English language, music and theater departments. Pictured are AMSA actors: Travis Wickland (Lord Capulat), Colton Brown (Benvolio), Jonah Schmitz (Romeo) and Logan Douglas (Mercutio). Photo courtesy of Jefferson Fietek

In an all-out effort, the music, art, theater and tech departments are collaborating to bring the hilarious play, written by Peter Bloedel, to the Anoka stage.

The show will be presented four times: Feb. 22 (ASL interpreted) and Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 23 and Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets $10 for adults, $5 for seniors/students under 18 years old. The theater is at 1523 Fifth Ave. S., Anoka. Tickets at door or reserve them by calling 763-506-3667.

English language arts students will put a contemporary spin on Shakespeare quotes.

Jefferson Fietek directs.

A total of 26 crew and 21 cast members comprises the acting and behind-the-scenes ensemble of “Seussification.”

“What makes this production unique is the mix of the signature styles of language from both William Shakespeare and Dr. Seuss,” Fietek said. “It makes for quite a challenge for the actors and a big treat for the audience. It also makes Shakespeare a bit more accessible for those who may be intimidated by his works.”

Expect creative murals, inspired sculptures and two and three-dimensional art pieces inspired by Dr. Seuss from the art department.

“Not only are students creating a fun and whimsical/playful piece based on the imaginative work of Dr. Seuss… and the work of Shakespeare’s, ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ students are learning new techniques in clay,” said Ann Phillippi, art teacher. “They are also learning about… 3D sculptures and abstract art.”

Audience members will experience a combined departments effort similar to last year’s “I Never Saw Another Butterfly.” When they enter the building, visitors will see posters, artwork and written pieces displayed on the walls.

“We hope to encourage collaboration between classes so students see how ideas can create diverse products that still echo a common theme or topic, “ said English language teacher Jodi Anderson Wolhaupter. “The most meaningful learning is often something that is tied to an authentic, real-world experience or venue.”

Soundwise, original music written by AMSA music students, will be featured in the production, along with music students, who will play Renaissance period music pieces on Seussified instruments.

“This is a period of music that we usually don’t address in seventh or eighth grade,” orchestra teacher Julie Schmidt said about Renaissance music circa the years 1400-1600.

Music composition students have composed not only Renaissance music but music for contrasting chase scenes. Some students are designing costumes for their instruments to reflect a Seuss-like tone. Also, students are taking it on themselves to rehearse their original small group chamber compositions.

“The students all enjoy doing something with a purpose – a performance to show what they can do,” said orchestra teacher Julie Schmidt. “It gave us a chance to talk and plan for what and how to accomplish our goals.”

Set design is by Matt Kari, Lighting design by Stirling Callander and costume design by Jeni O’Malley.

Elyse Kaner is at elyse.kaner@ecm-inc.com

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