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Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia, presented Romeo and Juliet to the Cappies Critics on May 3, 2024. Here are the top two Cappies Critic reviews.

Grace Drost

Chantilly High School


Amidst a starlit night, the shadows of two figures bound by love and separated by name search for a place in the sky where their stars may burn together. Lake Braddock Secondary School’s production of Romeo and Juliet was a tearful and candlelit warning against the destructive nature of juvenile devotion.


The classic Shakespearean play of Romeo and Juliet was born in the late 16th century. The story of secret lovers torn apart by their family’s hatred for each other has been long lived, inspiring countless retellings and alternate versions in the form of songs, poems and movies. Romeo, a Montague, and Juliet, a Capulet, sneak away from their parents' watchful eyes to elope in a whirlwind and dangerous teenage romance that ends bloody for more than just them.


Alex Perry exploded onto the stage in a red blur of passion as Romeo. Perry’s quick feet and emotional agility brought a liveliness and urgency to his character that conveyed both youth and a dedication to love. Murphy Finnegan as Juliet was the perfect complement to Perry’s intensity as a calming and sweet presence. Finnegan flowed gracefully through the show, the image of an ideal maiden around her family, and lighting up with a young lover's excitement with Romeo. Claire Copes as the Nurse provided a well needed comedic relief from the tension of the story, hilariously delivering long-winded monologues and hitting exceptional comedic beats, all while exhibiting genuine commitment to the survival of Romeo and Juliet’s partnership.


Holland Hasle as Mercutio and Aidan Chomicki as Tybalt were a memorable pair, as swords flashed and blood was drawn. Hasle and Chomicki expertly navigated their fight choreography, leaping around the stage with deft movements and nimble limbs that wholly sold the authenticity of the combat.


The costume team, led by Lila Halleran, carefully considered both family and personality for each character. They swapped the traditional house colors, dressing the Montagues in a fiery red to match Romeo’s fervor, and the Capulets in soft royal blues to convey Juliet's poise and tranquility. Inspired by both Shakespearean and Regency Era clothing, the team created intentionally anachronistic costumes that combined different styles to form an intricate and unique wardrobe. The special effects team, headed by Bella Molino, constructed impressive blood packs for each of the five death scenes in the show. The packs burst and soaked through clothing, emphasizing the impact of the violence and overall eeriness of the production.


Though Romeo and Juliet may have been doomed from the start, Lake Braddock Secondary School certainly brought the hope and radiance of their love to life, on a star-crossed night to remember.

Nataline Phillips

West Springfield High School


Blades clash as red and blue regalia engulf each other in a city square. This violent strife may sound belligerent, but who knew a story of love could blossom from its bitter vines. Lake Braddock Secondary School bestowed this story most excellent and lamentable in their rendition of Romeo and Juliet.


The momentous tragicomedy of Romeo and Juliet was originally brought to life in 1597 by divine English playwright William Shakespeare. To this day, it remains one of the most performed and influential Shakespearean works. Its plot follows two young lovers as they explore an ill-fated romance amidst an everlasting feud between their separate familial factions.


These young lovers, the passionate Romeo Montague and elegant Juliet Capulet, were portrayed majestically in this interpretation. Alex Perry delivered a delicate charm as Romeo, effectively pulling heartstrings through fond professions and cries of anguish. His kindred counterpart, Murphy Finnegan, underscored the youth of Juliet and captured the innocence often shackled in catastrophic chronicles not unlike her own.


In addition to the leading pair, Verona was home to a myriad of striking personalities. Languid disposition could be found in Friar Laurence (Jonathan Barnard) and Lord Capulet (Ben Mills), both of whom had a gait and manner that expressed their ages fittingly, making each of their fits of emotion all the more earned. Capulet’s hostile nephew, Tybalt, felt crisper than ever thanks to the performance by Aidan Chomicki. Chomicki excelled in making Tybalt feel human and wielded not only a sword but a sensitivity under the rage most associated with the character.


Montagues and Capulets all added to fair Verona and the glory of Romeo and Juliet. This execution of the play was ensemble-based on a heightened level, allowing every actor on stage to bring cohesion to the backdrop that breathed life into the setting. This could be seen in elaborate ball dances or everyday city street scenes. Said cohesion was decorated by a lovely palette of costumes designed by Lila Halleran and her crew, plus an array of over two hundred props spearheaded by Riley Kozal used in chaotic, immersive delight right from scene one.


Complimenting the aforementioned wondrous deliveries of Shakespearean prose, the rest of Lake Braddock’s crew painted a picturesque environment across all five acts. Three primary building formations, created by Kinsey Lin and her team, stood onstage the entire duration of the show acting narratively dynamic and alluring. Adorning numerous calamities were expert special effects made by Bella Molino that showcased faux blood and billowing fog, pairing emphatically with Layla Holloman’s hues against the stage’s cyclorama.


Lake Braddock achieved what its star-crossed lovers couldn’t: flipping fortune in the favor of love–the audience’s love for a fresh and enthralling take on a classic tale. While a play by any other name would present as sweet, there is no need to hesitate when plucking Romeo and Juliet.


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