Take Shakespeare but mix in some blood and guts and that’s exactly what you get with R & J & Z, a production being put on by the University of Memphis theater and dance department on Oct. 28.
The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and will run until Oct. 30.
R & J & Z stands for Romeo & Juliet & Zombies, of course. The play puts the two beloved characters in a world filled with chaos, magic, and most importantly, a zombie apocalypse.
Written by Melody Bates, an actress and writer from Oregon, the story starts where the lives of Romeo and Juliet ended: in Act V, Scene III of Shakespeare’s original play.
According to Original Works Publishing, the company that published R&J&Z, the play explores the question, “What if Romeo and Juliet got a second chance?”
It takes place in the midst of the plague in Verona and is a tale of drama, comedy and horror that continues the classic, forbidden love story of the two main characters.
The U of M’s take on Bates’ version of the classic tale stars Will Draper as Romeo opposite Aly Milan as Juliet.
Fans will also be horrified in the best possible way to see two other characters from the original tale back from the dead: Mercutio and Tybalt.
Mercutio, of course, played by Austin Wall, originally met his fate at the end of Tybalt’s sword, cursing both the Montagues and the Capulets as he passed on.
“A plague on both your houses!” he uttered in the famous scene.
Zoë Perrock, stage manager for the play, expressed her excitement to get to work on such a unique play.
“My initial reaction was ‘heck yes!’ I was thrilled to add such a cool show to my portfolio,” she said.
Perrock, who majors in theatre design, says it has been a massive production process.
“I hope that the audience will walk away understanding the technical magnitude of the production,” she said.
The crew will kick off the show with a zombie walk on opening day at 2.pm.
The walk will start at four different locations around campus: the UC, Centennial Place, Wilder Tower and the bridge near the wellness center. Together, the hordes of zombies will drag their reanimated bodies across campus and ascend on the theater building promptly before the show begins.
For those that can’t make the play’s first run, the show will rise from the dead for another two-day block starting on Nov. 4.