Two versions to choose from: The Original Musical and the Play Version!
Roz is having a bad day. Not only was she dumped by her high school boyfriend, she finds herself transported to Shakespeare's fair Verona as Rosaline. Wandering into the balcony scene, she discovers that she's been dumped again, but this time it's by Romeo. Her luck changes as she finds an unlikely friendship with Juliet's rejected suitor, Paris. Can Rosaline and Paris achieve that which eludes Romeo and Juliet: a happy ending? A retro-pop score spins this timeless tale into a whole new adventure. The twists and turns are endless in this teenage rom-com that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
Winner of the 2014 Stage Rights/NYMF Publishing Award, a program of The New York Musical Theatre Festival.
In a contemporary high school English classroom, Roz (later Rosaline) catches her boyfriend Tony (later Romeo) kissing Julie (later Juliet) (“Give Me Love”). Perry (later Paris) tries to console her, but she views him as just a nice guy, not boyfriend material. Mr. Lawrence (later Friar Lawrence) enters, and the class begins dealing with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. But Roz drifts off, and whether in actual dream or just daydream, she finds herself transported to Shakespeare’s “fair Verona” as the original object of Romeo’s affections, Rosaline (“Romeo and—").
In Verona, Paris (formerly Perry) tries to negotiate with Lord Capulet to marry Capulet’s daughter Juliet (formerly Julie). He is doing this to please his mother, Lady Avare; she and Capulet hope to marry off Paris and Juliet to each other because the marriage would benefit them financially, particularly helping Lady Avare to pay off a debt she owes to a merchant in Venice who might cut out her heart if she doesn’t pay up (“And Make a Little Money, Too”). It quickly becomes clear that Paris and Juliet would make a terrible match for each other (“An Ordinary Guy Like Me”). It also becomes clear that Rosaline, orphaned, is in a Cinderella-like situation with the Capulets— officially living with them as a distant relative, but really working as a servant.
At the Capulets’ party (“Party at Capulet’s,” “Elizabethan Dance”), Rosaline learns that Romeo has snuck in, although she hasn’t seen him. Tybalt notices her delighted reaction to hearing of Romeo’s presence and vows to seek revenge against Romeo. Meanwhile Juliet, finding Paris boring, sneaks away from him. Romeo and Juliet see each other and fall in love at first sight. At the same time, elsewhere on stage, Rosaline and Paris meet each other. Although they’re quickly attracted to each other, they don’t feel free to express this attraction— after all, Rosaline considers herself Romeo’s girlfriend, and Paris is trying to marry Juliet (“Love Is So Hard”). After the party Rosaline, still searching for Romeo, goes outside and wanders into Shakespeare’s balcony scene, where she sees Romeo—supposedly her boyfriend—kissing her 13-year-old cousin Juliet. Rosaline is crushed, but her friends eventually cheer her up somewhat (“Life After You”).
The next morning, Friar Lawrence tells two Gangsters that he can repay his drug-related debts if he can just have a few more days. After the Gangsters leave and Romeo enters, Romeo asks Friar Lawrence to preside at a marriage of Romeo and Juliet. Meanwhile Rosaline, wanting to find Romeo to return love tokens to him, encounters Paris on the street— but Lady Avare is also there and notices their attraction for one another. After finding a pretext to get Paris away, she warns Rosaline to stay away from Paris, because he is supposed to marry Juliet. Rosaline states that she saw Juliet kissing Romeo on the balcony the night before. Lady Avare, realizing that this information would undermine the proposed Paris-Juliet marriage if it became public, threatens financial ruin and physical harm to Rosaline if she tells anyone else, especially Paris, what she has seen. After Paris returns and Lady Avare leaves, Paris tells Rosaline that he saw Tybalt searching for Romeo— and Rosaline realizes this means that Romeo’s life is in danger. Despite her anger at Romeo’s fickle behavior, she rushes to find him before Tybalt does. Rosaline expresses frustration at her romantic life, while Tybalt expresses an almost erotic longing to kill Romeo (“I Hate Love”/“I Love Hate”). Meanwhile, Friar Lawrence secretly weds Romeo to Juliet.
As in Romeo and Juliet, Tybalt at first ends up dueling Mercutio instead of Romeo. When Romeo tries to break up this fight, Rosaline pulls him away, fearing for his safety. Tybalt kills Mercutio, and Romeo blames Rosaline, angrily shouting, “Why the devil came you between us?” The enraged Romeo then kills Tybalt, who dies blaming Rosaline for having been attracted to Romeo, thus provoking the quarrel. Paris, who has been a bewildered observer of much of this, attempts to console Rosaline, who collapses into his arms, sobbing.
The Prince, Verona’s ruler, banishes Romeo on penalty of death if he is caught within the city. The Nurse promises Juliet that she will sneak Romeo to her bedroom that night, so they can consummate their marriage before he goes into exile. Lady Avare and Capulet agree to use Tybalt’s death as an excuse to speed up the marriage of Paris to Juliet, on the pretext that a marriage will distract the family from its sorrow. Rosaline warmly expresses her gratitude to Paris for consoling her, and he almost expresses his affections— but he is on the way to the Capulet house to solidify the plans for him to marry Juliet. All the major characters consider the complications derailing their plans (“Why Did You Come Between Us?”).
Romeo sneaks into Juliet’s bedroom window— and Rosaline, having walked Paris to the Capulets' house, sees Romeo do so. While Romeo and Juliet are upstairs consummating their marriage, Paris and Capulet are downstairs arranging for Paris to marry Juliet. Paris briefly tries to back out and express his true feelings, but his mother makes certain he does not. Act I ends with the situation seemingly hopeless for Rosaline and Paris (“Love Is So Hard” reprise).
Desperate to avoid marrying Paris, Juliet takes a potion given to her by Friar Lawrence. As in Romeo and Juliet, the plan is for Juliet to seem dead so that she is interred in the family tomb, while Friar Lawrence writes to Romeo to inform him of the plan and have him return secretly to Verona, where he is to meet Juliet at the tomb and elope with her.
Meanwhile Paris, unaware of all this, is getting ready for his marriage to Juliet, scheduled to take place within a few minutes. Rosaline tries to get him to express his true feelings, and he tries to get her to express hers, but they succeed only in telling each other what great friends they are (“Just Friends”). They try to express themselves again moments later, but Lady Avare arrives and prevents this. They dejectedly head for the Capulets’ home for the marriage— but they arrive just at the moment that Juliet is discovered to be (supposedly) dead.
Talking with each other later that day, Rosaline and Paris observe that flashy people like Romeo and Juliet get all the attention, leaving them largely ignored. “It’s like they’re the stars and we’re just bit players in their story,” Paris observes. But Rosaline states that she feels better off without the romantic, butterflies-in-the-stomach-inducing Romeo, adding, “I want a guy that I can kiss before dinner, and I’m still hungry.” Encouraged, Paris is finally about to express his love for her when Rosaline is called away to help the Capulets in their grief. Lady Avare arrives and tells Paris that with Juliet dead, she will arrange for the family to gain a hefty dowry by having Paris marry a woman named Katherine, from Padua (in other words, the “shrew” from The Taming of the Shrew). Paris finally stands up to his mother, telling her that he loves Rosaline and wants to marry her (“Startin’ Today”). Lady Avare warns him that he will regret his attempt at independence.
At the Capulets’ home, Rosaline has received a summons to appear before the family and wonders what she has done. Paris explains that his mother is undoubtedly behind it, because he has said some things about Rosaline that his mother didn’t like. When Rosaline asks Paris what he told his mother, Paris replies, “That I love you, Rosaline.” But before Rosaline can respond to this, the trial begins, with Lady Avare demanding that the Capulets turn Rosaline out into the street, disgraced, because Rosaline is supposedly trying to seduce Paris in order to marry him for money, consummating the seduction on the very day of Juliet’s death (“A Thankless Child”). Rosaline is called to the witness stand and asked why she would possibly be interested in Paris if she isn’t after money. Rosaline replies by declaring, for the first time and in front of everybody, that she loves Paris (“Come and Get Me, Here I Am”). Lady Avare then accuses Rosaline of having slandered Juliet in an attempt to undermine the planned Paris/Juliet wedding, leaving Paris (and money) available for Rosaline. Rosaline’s alleged slander consists of having told Lady Avare about seeing Juliet kissing someone other than Paris just after the Capulets’ party. Rosaline acknowledges having said this. But she tries to avoid explosive anger by not identifying the “someone” as Romeo, and she emphasizes that she was simply telling the truth. But Capulet refuses to believe this accusation about his daughter, and angrily banishes Rosaline from their home. Lady Avare then states that once she tells her relative the Prince about Rosaline’s behavior, he’ll have Rosaline banished from all Verona. The Capulets leave, and Lady Avare promptly brings in the Gangsters last seen in Act I, telling one of them to escort her out of town and forcibly “encourage” her not to return, and the other to keep Paris out of the way until Rosaline has been taken care of.
The Nurse, who had attended the trial, secretly meets with Lady Capulet and tells her that Rosaline was telling the truth about Juliet kissing someone on the balcony. Lady Capulet and the Nurse, along with female members of the chorus, rescue Rosaline from the Gangster (“Life After You” reprise). Lady Capulet advises Rosaline to see Friar Lawrence, stating he’s the person likeliest to be able to help her to find Paris. But she must be careful, since she has been banished from the city. Meanwhile the other Gangster has released Paris, largely to be free from Paris’ constant talk about Rosaline.
Rosaline goes to see Friar Lawrence. The Friar, seemingly slightly high, has little to say about finding Paris, but lets slip that Juliet isn’t really dead, but only drugged. He also exhibits an almost obsessive interest in the gold that was buried with Tybalt and the jewels that were buried with Juliet. They see Lady Avare approaching with the Gangsters, and Rosaline states that the Gangsters can probably tell her where Paris is, but Friar Lawrence advises the “banished” Rosaline to run. She starts to leave, but as soon as Friar Lawrence’s back is turned, she hides. Lady Avare and the Gangsters enter. Desperate for money now that she can no longer get money from marrying off her son, Lady Avare is strong-arming Friar Lawrence to pay off his drug-related debt. She leaves after instructing the Gangsters to “strongly encourage” Friar Lawrence to pay quickly. He tells the Gangsters that he can pay within 24 hours, because he knows where he can get his hands on some gold and jewels. Warned about the danger of witnesses, he says, “There won’t be a living soul around— well, just one girl, but she’ll be fast asleep.” He then adds that if she awakes, so much the better: he’s reuniting her with her lover, but the lover won’t be there yet, so if she awakes he’ll “strongly encourage her” to show her gratitude physically. After the Gangsters and Friar Lawrence leave, Rosaline emerges from hiding and expresses her determination to stop Friar Lawrence’s evil plan, despite the danger (“Startin’ Today” reprise). Paris arrives, vows to help her with anything, no matter how dangerous, and the two finish the “Startin’ Today” reprise as a duet. Rosaline states her intention to borrow Paris’ sword and go to the Capulets’ tomb to protect Juliet because “somebody wants to do something awful. Maybe something awful to— her body.” Paris points out that Rosaline, banished, cannot freely move around in Verona, and volunteers to go to the tomb for her. When Rosaline tells him that he’d never believe her if she told him who was planning to do something awful at the tomb, he says, “Then don’t tell me,” and promises to use his sword to stop whoever tries to break into the tomb.
Meanwhile Friar Lawrence learns that Romeo never received the letter explaining that Juliet wasn’t really dead. Friar Lawrence resolves to write another letter, although he realizes this may prevent him from arriving at the tomb before Juliet awakes. Romeo, in turn, has received the erroneous information that Juliet is dead, after which he has bought poison and is heading for the tomb, where he intends to die beside Juliet.
When Paris sees Romeo breaking into the tomb, he assumes Romeo is the one Rosaline had warned him about, and he tries to arrest Romeo. They are about to fight each other with daggers when Paris sees Juliet move, as she is just beginning to awaken. In shock, he lowers his dagger— but does this just as Romeo thrusts with his dagger to begin the fight. Romeo turns from the fatally wounded Paris, delivers a poetic speech to the seemingly-dead Juliet, takes the poison, and attempts a dying kiss— only to watch Juliet come to life. He screams “The undead!” in horror, and then dies from the poison. Juliet, hearing a noise, tries to use Romeo’s dagger to kill herself, as in Romeo and Juliet— but she can’t at first find the dagger. Eventually she sees it in the chest of the dying Paris, and crying, “This is thy sheath,” she pulls it from his chest. Paris screams in agony, and Juliet stabs herself, falling into Romeo’s arms.
Friar Lawrence, the Capulets, Lady Montague, the Prince, and Rosaline arrive. While the others ostentatiously moan over Romeo and Juliet, Rosaline notices that Paris is still alive. She calls out to the others to help Paris, but they seem not to notice. Paris dies in Rosaline’s arms. After Friar Lawrence has explained about Romeo and Juliet, the Prince is about to absolve Friar Lawrence of blame when Rosaline shouts to the Prince that she needs to tell him some things about Friar Lawrence. Shouting, “I dare no longer stay!”, Friar Lawrence runs off, pursued by the Prince’s men. Lady Avare arrives, sees her son dead in Rosaline’s arms, and is one of those the Prince refers to in the “all are punished” speech.
The scene returns to the high school classroom from the opening. The class period ends, and Roz awakens (or comes out of her daydream). Tony returns to the classroom to go off with Julie— but it becomes clear that during the previous class period, Tony had written flirty text messages to yet another girl. Julie angrily accuses him of being a player and storms off, with Tony in pursuit, leaving Roz and Perry by themselves. Perry almost gets up the nerve to ask her out, but can’t quite do it and is about to leave. But Roz asks him if he’d like to have lunch with her in the school cafeteria, and he says he would. They both emphasize that this doesn’t mean they’re anything more than “just friends,” but then Roz says, “Ah, what the hell,” and kisses Perry. After his initial shock, he kisses her back. He then asks where they go from there, and she replies, “To the cafeteria. I’m still hungry.” They kiss again as the other cast members return to the stage, paired in couples as much as possible (“Final Medley”).
A refreshing take on Shakespeare and the modern musical.
Roz/Rosaline: Teen as Roz; twenty-something as Rosaline.
Perry/Paris: Teen as Perry; twenty-something as Paris.
Tony/Romeo: Teen as Tony; late teens as Romeo.
Julie/Juliet: Teen as Julie; 13 as Juliet.
Heather/Lady Avare: Teen as Heather; middle-aged as Lady Avare
Mr. Laurence/Friar Lawrence: About 40.
Capulet: About 40.
Lady Capulet: Twenty-six in Shakespeare’s play, but seems older—mother of teen.
Nora/Nurse: Teen as Nora; late 20s as Nurse.
Ty/Tybalt/Carlo/Apothecary: Teen as Ty, 20s as Tybalt, 30s as Carlo and Apothecary.
Mark/Mercutio/Luca: Teen as Mark, 20s as Mercutio, 30s as Luca.
Benvolio/Assorted Servants: Twenty or so as Benvolio.
Prince/Assorted Servants: Thirties.
Hannah/Assorted Servants: Teen in high school, 20s in Verona.
Ashley/Assorted Servants: Teen in high school, 20s in Verona.
Casting Note: This cast list assumes supporting actors play multiple roles. Schools and other groups wishing to expand cast size may easily do so.
Setting: Contemporary American high school and locations from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
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Billing responsibilities, pertinent copyright information, and playwrights' biographies are available in the show rider that comes with your license agreement. To download the show rider for Searching For Romeo, click here.
“Playful, retropoppy . . . teenage rom-com wrapped around a tragedy . . . lighthearted . . . it’s funny”–Laura Collins-Hughes, The New York Times
“charming”–Chris Caggiano ,Theatre Professor, Boston Conservatory
“This really is a charming show.”–showshowdown
“just fun. . . . a really upbeat show”–PXP!
“The musical’s self-aware approach to storytelling is hysterical.”–broadwayspotted.com
“A refreshing take on both Shakespeare and the modern musical.”—broadwayspotted.com
“You don’t have to brush up on your Shakespeare to enjoy this lighthearted romp, but fans of the Bard might get an extra kick out of it.”–Hi! Drama
“Great contemporary/pop style music. The tunes are incredibly catchy and the lyrics are witty and well-written.”—broadwayspotted.com
“Sutton’s music is extremely pleasant . . . tuneful and infectious” Chris Caggiano, Theatre Professor, Boston Conservatory
“The music was . . . toe-tapping and delightful”–showshowdown
“. . . funny, relevant, and I fell in love with the idea”–PXP!
“One of the best things about the show is that, in all its cheekiness and irreverence, it makes you think twice about the love stories that we tend to revere”–showshowdown
“I really want to see it again. And again. And Again.”–PXP.
Materials: Your materials will be sent to you two months prior to your opening date and will include everything necessary for your production. They can be ordered in Printed or Digital format. Printed Materials are provided on unbound three-hole punched loose-leaf paper while Digital Materials are provided via email as downloadable PDF files for you to print in-house. All materials are yours to keep! No deposits, no returns.
The Authorized Materials/Rehearsal Package for Searching for Romeo: The Musical includes: