ABC and Shondaland will premiere the Shakepearean sequel Still Star Crossed tonight at 10 pm. It is based on the novel by the same name by author Melinda Taub. It follows the story of the Montagues and Capulets after the suicides of Romeo and Juliet.
Okay, so you would have to be living under a rock to not know the story of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet. There have been countless films, remakes, retellings and adaptaions with their own twists and turns but the premise is pretty much the same. Boy meets girl and sparks fly. They fall in love unaware that each of them belong to families at odds. What to do, what to do? Hey, I know, secretly keep seeing each other while family and friends fight and kill each other.
Here’s a little backstory before we get into the preview.
Romeo decides to attend a party announcing the marriage of the Capulet duaghter, Juliet to Count Paris. Romeo uninvited I might add, hopes to meet Rosaline whom he is infatuated with. Instead of meeting Rosaline, he meets Juliet and falls madly in love and the feeling is mutual. Juliet’s cousin Tybalt sees Romeo and is angered at his uninvited presence and a fight ensues. Lord Capulet stops the fight so that there wouldn’t be any blood shed at the ball. Later that night, while Juliet is on her balcony, she professes her love for Romeo and he to her. They decide to get married. WOW…talk about a quickie wedding.
Now here’s the rub. With the help of their local Friar, Romeo and Juliet marry the next day. Juliet’s cousin Tybalt challenges Romeo to a duel because he is still upset that Romeo snuck into the Capulet’s ball the night of the marriage announcement of. Romeo refuses because he knows that after marrying Juliet, Tybalt is family. Romeo’s friend Mercutio decides to accept the duel on Romeo’s behalf. While fighing, Tybalt kills Mercutio and a grief-stricken Romeo confronts Tybalt and kills him. Wait, it gets better!
Romeo gets banished from Verona or faces death. Before he leaves, he goes to Juliet and they consummate their marriage. The next morning after Romeo leaves, Daddy Capulet decides to marry off his unwilling little girl of only 13 years, earlier than planned and Juliet is so not having it. She begs but gets nowhere. A very desperate Juliet goes to the Friar for help. She wants to leave and go to Romeo, but how, you ask?
Friar Laurence gives Juliet a potion that will put her into a death-like sleep for “two and forty hours.” During her sleep, he says that he will get a letter to Romeo letting him know of the plan for him to be there when she wakes up. The night before she is to get married to Paris, she takes the potion and falls into a deep sleep. She is found the next morning and is thought to be dead and is laid in the family crypt.
Well, if these two weren’t already an unlucky pair it gets worse. So, the letter that was sent by the Friar to Romeo, somehow never reached him and he is told by his servant, that Juliet is dead. Remember, no one knows about the plan except for Juliet and the Friar.
Romeo heads back to Verona and buys some poison and goes to be with his true love Juliet. He would rather be dead alongside her than be alive without her. He drinks the poison and Juliet awakens. Finding him dead and kills herself as well.
In an interview with the Hollwood Reporter, showrunner Heather Mitchell stated that she thought “the appeal of a Renaissance period drama is wider than on would imagine.”
“It is a beautiful time period that’s really cool and has sword fights. We’re not going to be talking in iambic pentameter here. I am not a drama buff. I am not a Shakespeare buff. I read more about the plays and refamiliarized myself with the plays working on the show,” Mitchell confesses, “but I came into this with my 10th grade English memory of this stuff. The bottom line is that these are fantastic characters, and you can take their storylines and use them in a modern way. I’m always writing for the person who’s coming home after work and wants to pour themselves a nice big glass of wine and forget about everything and just watch some awesome TV. We say the words ‘thou art’ once in the entire pilot, and that might be the only time we say it in this series.”
Still Star Crossed was filmed on location in small villages in Spain with a diverse cast which includes Torrance Coombs (Paris), Ebonee Noel (Livia), Julio Perillan (Matteo), Wade Briggs (Benvolio), Lashana Lynch (Rosaline) and Medalion Rahiml (Princess Isabella).
The pilot episode will focus on Romeo and Juliet’s story and what happens immediately afterwards. The rest of the series will go in a different direction. Mitchell says that,
“The show is about, what if all the characters in Shakespeare lived in the same world and could interact with each other? So the plays either have happened or are going to happen, but the plays are canon. Verona is an excellent place for many people to cross paths because it’s right on a trade route, and you could totally believe that someone from, say, Scotland or someone from, say, Denmark or a bunch of people from, say, Venice might make their way through Verona at some point. So many of Shakespeare’s plays are set in Italy, anyway.We are actually thinking about the whole world of Shakespeare, and we’re using Shakespeare’s most famous play, Romeo and Juliet, as sort of our launching point to the larger world. So yes, there is romance, but there is also mystery and intrigue. And I was a writer on Scandal for many years, so it’s not like I’m going to get into the nitty-gritty of long-married characters and politics and the backstabbing. It’s a good mix of all this stuff. I don’t think that people should tune in thinking that it’s going to be solely romance because it’s a lot of action and adventure and mystery as well.”
So does that mean it will be like Once Upon a Time meets Shakespeare? Will he eventually meet Hamlet, Othello, or Macbeth? I am so intrigued and will be watching tonight.
ABC’s Still Star Crossed will premiere tonight at 10 pm.