Sitting at a table underneath Juliet’s famous balcony scene in Romeo + Juliet: Love is a Battlefield Volume 2, Juliet sings Whitney Houston’s famous song – “I Have Nothing….if I don’t have you.” This immersive theatre is similar to Hamilton on Broadway. Hamilton teaches American History with hip-hop and rap music. At the Prospect Theatre in Hollywood, Romeo + Juliet enriches the Shakespeare language with 80s pop music, and it WORKS!
This style of Romeo + Juliet is fun for people my age who grew up listening to all of these 1980s anthems by pop star sensations. It’s also a lively, interactive way to engage a younger audience into the brilliance of Shakespeare’s storytelling. Children above the age of 12 will sit riveted to the performances by this extremely talented cast and crew.
Award winning Bradley Bredeweg, creator of ABC’s “The Fosters,” and producer of Broadway’s SIDE SHOW and AMERICAN IDIOT on London’s West End, now takes this popular Shakespeare tragedy into a new entertainment dimension.
Bredeweg created, directs and debuted this new live show on Friday, July 8. Inside Hollywood’s newest avant-garde 150 seat theater (located on Hollywood and Ivar) is a talented cast of actors, five piece live band, DJ and dinner prepared by a well-known Executive chef Kyle Schutte.
Arrive by 7 p.m. to order dinner from a diverse menu that includes fried chicken, grilled Romaine salad, octopus pot pie, beef tenderloin and a good, house-ground short rib burger. A small list of wine, beer by the bottle and creative cocktails are available and served in plastic stemware.
Walk upstairs into a club-like atmosphere to declare if you are a Capulet or Montague. You will receive a temporary tattoo to wear somewhere on your body to show your loyalty.
Guests receive a flute of champagne and an amuse bouche of compressed watermelon hamachi drizzled with lime, pickled corn, sliced chili and corn nuts for crunch. I remember Schutte’s at Roadhouse LA inside the IMPROV on Melrose. He wow’d me with his creative barbecue flair.
A hostess hands you a theater program and escorts you into the dark, dinner theater to your table. Red lighting streams down throughout the stage in the round. There is a stage in front and smaller risers throughout the room.
Shakespeare’s eloquent words are recited, with breakout numbers that include Prince’s – “1999” and Pat Benatar’s – “Love is a Battlefield” songs. The music and lyrics enhance the story of this classic tragedy about two feuding families and their two passionate teens.
The feuding is choreographed beautifully by Chris Downey. He stages the Capulets united in red on one side of the theater, while the Montagues in blue, stand together on the opposite side belting out Michael Jackson’s hit song “Beat It.” I tell you, it works! The energy of the choreography brings everyone to the edge of their seats, especially at the masquerade ball singing Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.”
A standout is Ashley Argota as Juliet. When she enters the theater, everyone’s eyes are on this beauty. A showstopper is when she and Romeo played by the splendid Alex Nee sing “Love is a Battlefield” in playful and sensual rendition that leaves audience members breathless.
Romeo’s cousin Benevolio, played by the edgy Jordan Kai Burnett in tights and short black shorts is a delight. She shines in “We Belong Together” and “In the Name of Love.”
I also really enjoyed Chris Chatman as Mercuttio, especially in the Pat Benatar musical number – “Running with the Shadows of the Night.”
One of my favorite actors was the fierce A.J. Mendoza when he sings “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics. He and Brett McMahon (Paris) command the stage with their ferocious rendition of Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like a Wolf”, as they are out to hunt down Romeo. McMahon sings to Juliet, “Don’t You Want Me Baby” by The Human League with emotion that makes one feel sorry for his character Paris.
Julie Garnye as Mother Montague is mesmerizing singing a beautiful rendition of Annie Lennox’s “Walking on Broken Glass” to her son Romeo.
The ending is harsh and you walk out of the theatre remembering that the tragedy of Romeo + Juliet was Shakespeare’s most popular play during his lifetime and it still is today in Hollywood.
Tickets are now on sale for $39 regular admission and $59 VIP. Ticket holders with VIP receive a complimentary glass of champagne and dessert. For more information follow Prospect Theatre on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (@prospecttheatre) and visit the website for tickets: http://www.prospecttheatre.la. Prospect Theatre is located at 1643 Cosmo Street Hollywood.