Overture from Romeo and Juliet

This is the original full length overture from the premiere of my theatre work “Romeo and Juliet the musical” which premiered February 2015 at the Historic Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon, WA.

My Romeo and Juliet score uses only the original Shakespeare text in English; set to a musical theatre score.

Originally for the first opening night we played a shorter version which starts a few minutes into this (around 2:30 in this video) – the section where the brass comes in at a faster tempo. I thought this was a good snappy way to open the musical in a kind of traditional musical theatre style.

But the musicians, and myself, kind of missed the long extended “mystic” beginning of the original overture. To me, the longer intro is a way of conjuring the Bard; of paying homage to the works of William Shakespeare that have been performed in the past, and those to come.

I really milk the beginning as you will hear in this clip. A simple C major chord. When this was recorded at a live show on February 14, 2015 (Valentine’s Day!), it was a time for the couples to settle down and get ready for a new interpretation of the Bard’s work.

When I wrote it, I image mist or low lying fog slowly clearing. Or I image the spirits of the characters in the houses Montagues and Capulets slowly returning; at least their memories to be relived once again on the stage.

In general I keep to the rule to always be as succinct as possible in musical theatre. But this was an occasion where I missed the indulgence of a longer and sparse orchestral beginning.

The overture uses themes from Juliet drinking the poison, the Nurse’s song where she sings “Wilt thou not Julie”, the main Romeo and Juliet theme which uses the words “Give me my Romeo”, and also part of Juliet’s solo in Act Two “Come Gentle Night”.

So was the overture written after the musical was finished, as is normally the case? Half and half. The second half of the overture uses sections from the musical after orchestration was finalized. The first half of the overture was actually written while I was writing the rest of the music score.

I started writing Romeo and Juliet the musical in November 2013 and had a first draft finished in January 2014. Then I worked on it furiously from June through September 2014 and the premiere was January 30, 2015 at the Historic Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon, WA for a three week run.

I hope you can imagine being with us on that opening night and also that you enjoy the music.

So where will Romeo and Juliet the musical go from here? Time will tell…

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