All Walks of Life's (AWOL) final production of Choices this past Saturday night, a hip hop adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, was a riveting show and that seemed to meet the expectations of an eager audience.
The cast of Choices has been rehearsing for the production of this fifth annual hip-hop play since September. All of the practicing appears to have paid off. All aspects of the play flowed smoothly, from the actors' lines, to transitions, to dance routines, and to lighting and changes of scenes.
The hip-hop version of the play seemed to be very apropos to today's time. I've never thought about how much easier it would be for Romeo and Juliet to communicate in today's time until Autumn Mitchell as Juliet said that in the morning she would text Romeo; then, they would secretly meet and be married. Now, how simple was that? A text, no letter writing or messenger involved.
The dance routines were also very appropriate for the time. The dances helped to communicate what the actors did not. The dances were executed smoothly and without flaw. The dancers performed the movements effortlessly -- surprisingly, considering that the kids have had little to no formal training.
That's what's so amazing about these kids; the amount of training is low, but the raw talent is at an all time high.
Not only the dances, but also the poets helped to keep the play moving. The poems delivered emotions and pieces of the story that the actors' words did not, thus helping the overall smoothness of the play.
The voice projection of the poets was pretty good, and could be heard at the back of the theatre, where I was seated. However, I would have liked to have heard the performance without the microphones that the actors wore.
The sound quality was questionable at times, and with them being so close to the actors' faces, the microphones often produced a muffled sound. The voice projection of the actors would have been just as easily audible and perhaps even more clearly enunciated without the microphones.
Even the intermission was not lacking for entertainment. There was a speaker for E93 FM that came to speak of the good opportunities that AWOL brings to the children involved. There was also a local rap group that performed. The show was full of entertainment from beginning to end.
Director Lakesha Green did a great job translating the play into modern language. She also did a great job of portraying the theme that, "Life is about choices; we all have to make them, so why don't we all try to make the right ones?"
That theme was and remains an important aspect of life, whether the play was written during Shakespeare's time or now, as Choices proves. If people are going to change their ways and make the right choices, they have to start with the man in the mirror, which is why the ending to the performance with a dance to "Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson was so fitting to the overall meaning of the play.