Composer Notes on Romeo and Juliet the musical


When META asked me to write a musical based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet my first order of business was to find the traditional musical version set to the bard’s original words as a starting point. I was shocked, and am still shocked, to find that there is none. In over 400 years no one has created an enduring musical theater version using only Shakespeare’s original text.

As I did my personal cold reading of Shakespeare’s original text I was also shocked to find that the language did not seem distant to me. It did not feel like language of a dead era. It felt very contemporary, accessible and vibrant. For my taste, there was no need to “update” Shakespeare’s original work. The epic task at hand, a game of sorts, was to keep the original era from the Romeo and Juliet world premiere around 1597 and to set it to music using only Shakespeare’s original text.

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RJ musical: About the Composer


Romeo and Juliet is Conrad Askland’s third full length musical. The first was Witches! the musical (2012- TAG), a story of the Salem witch trials, and the second was PAN the musical (2013 – META), a new musical of the Peter Pan story.

In January 2015 he was featured in the Oxford University Press textbook Music Direction for the Stage by Joseph Church and Disney lyricist Alan Menken. During 2014 he was music director and keyboardist for Rock of Ages out of New York with NCL International and from 2008-2012 he lived in Macau, China as music director and keyboardist performing over 1200 shows with the Cirque Du Soleil resident show ZAIA at the Venetian Macau.

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Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet vs. Askland’s Romeo and Juliet the musical


Shakespeare’s original Romeo and Juliet versus C.L. Askland’s RJ musical


What are the number of lines that are different from Shakespeare’s original text? Three Words (That’s correct: Three WORDS only) – Two words out of current common use were updated to common modern words, and a third word added to a sentence for clarity.

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RJ Public Composer presentations Sat. January 24, 2015



Free public presentations on the music of Romeo and Juliet the musical by composer Conrad Askland. The composer will discuss the composition process and explanation of the creation process for this world premiere that runs Jan. 30 – Feb. 15, 2015 at the Historic Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon, WA.

Mount Vernon Public Library
Mount Vernon, WA
Saturday, January 24, 2015 at 7pm

Anacortes Public Library
Anacortes, WA
Saturday, January 24, 2015 at 7pm

ENNW Jan 2015 Cover Story on Romeo and Juliet the musical


Entertainment News Northwest (ENNW) January 2015 cover story on Romeo and Juliet the musical. Read the full article at

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Guitar Sound Design for RJ 2015


Guitar is an essential element in the orchestration for Conrad Askland’s Romeo and Juliet the musical. Here is information on the sound design for the guitar parts developed by guitarist Jeff Bradley and composer Conrad Askland for the 2015 premiere run. (We will add more detailed information and audio samples as we go along)

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RJ Rehearsal Photos – December 2014

Rehearsal photos December 2014 for premiere of Romeo and Juliet the musical.


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RJ 2015 Rehearsal Photos – November 2014

Rehearsal photos from November 2014 for Romeo and Juliet the musical.


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Keyboard 2 Patch Setups for Askland’s RJ musical


Here are the Keyboard 2 patch setups for Conrad Askland’s Romeo and Juliet the musical. I’ve spent a lot of time with complex splits and effects busses and after much experimenting with score and players in live rehearsals, finally settled on simple patches with no effects.

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Shakespeare Memes

A collection of Shakespeare related memes and joke graphics. Join us on Facebook at:

roflcopter romeo-juliet-twilight

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