In this Monday’s episode of The Fosters, a musical version of Romeo and Juliet combines with the series’ signature drama for a really great hour of TV. In “The Show,” Brandon’s senior project, a Romeo and Juliet musical, has its big debut, bringing out some suppressed feelings for several of the characters — including the play’s Juliet, Mariana. I had a chance to preview the episode, and they’ve really done a great job of juggling an already layered story while incorporating some powerful musical numbers.
The Fosters‘ Executive Producer Bradley Bredeweg (who also co-wrote and directed “The Show”) and series star Cierra Ramirez (Mariana) chatted with me about this episode, which both of them are very excited for the world to see. Read our conversation, and check out a video preview of the episode below!
Musical episodes don’t always work, and I have to say that “The Show” merged the ongoing storylines on The Fosters with the musical at the center of the episode. Can you talk a bit about how that balance between those two elements was achieved for the episode?
Bradley Bredeweg: That always the challenge for us, to balance all those storylines. We have such a big family and such a big cast, so we’re constantly having to interweave all of our storylines. We knew that if we were going to tackle a musical, we would have to take that same formula and weave those story points from Brandon’s Romeo and Juliet into our Fosters storyline. We almost tackled it the same way, and we’re very lucky in that way in which every time we break an episode, it’s always a challenge and we just used that formula to the best of our abilities.
Earlier in the season, there’s some concern at Anchor Beach about a high school production of Romeo and Juliet glorifying teen suicide, which leads to it moving off campus. If anything, it’s a cautionary tale, which really comes through in the musical.
BB: Honestly, we just took a cue from Shakespeare, because that was the point of the original work. It is a cautionary tale. It’s not just a romantic love story. We just listened to the genius that did the original story and took his cues and went from there. It just seemed to work out perfectly for the story we were telling at Anchor Beach, and so we just went with it.
The musical numbers themselves are all very powerful. Cierra, was there one specific song that really moved you?
Cierra Ramirez: I would have to say “Brave” — or the dress song — when Juliet is getting married. That song took me away with the emotions and that’s how I portray it, but all of the music, honestly, was just so beautifully done. It was really cool to see the whole process come together, but that song really struck something within me and I’m really excited to see it.
While Mariana is on stage dealing with possibly still having feelings for Mat, some of her family is also struggling with the ideas of forbidden love, or unrequited love. Is Mariana aware of this, or is she focused solely on Mat?
CR: I think she’s more concerned with the rekindling between her and Mat. Going back to your first question, I really admire how Bradley and everyone ties all of those stories together because everyone can kind of relate to this play in a certain way or another. Mariana and Matt, in their own way, are kind of like Romeo and Juliet with their forbidden love. They’re both in different relationships now, and she’s the Rosalind for him, but there’s just something between them, that connection that never really went away. While all these other different storylines are going on, I think she’s really just concerned with the play and this love that is very undeniable. This attraction that they have is undeniable.
Mariana has shown some real maturity this season. She’s been able to learn from her mistakes and grow.
CR: They never cease to amaze me with what she can do. I love that Mariana can do it all and she does it well. She just turned 16, and she does make mistakes like everyone, but she is learning from them and she is becoming a really good role model. She’s gotten into coding, and she doesn’t let anyone tell her she can’t do something. It’s just really admirable and fun to play because they always keep me on my toes. I’m always ready to see the next script to see what she’s getting into.
Do you have any hopes or expectations on how viewers will react to this episode? I found it very moving, and there may have even been a tear or two.
CR: Our fans are so dedicated and I love seeing all of their memes that they make and everything like that. I’m really excited to see how they react to this episode because it’s unlike anything we’ve ever done before. I don’t know why, but I’ve always had this idea in my head that they’re going to come up with little videos of them recreating the dance steps and singing along. I’m really excited to see how they react to the musical altogether and see the reaction that we get from the episode.
BB: I hope people have the same experience that you had. I hope people see that not only are we doing a musical episode, but it’s also a very important Fosters episode. Those stories are still important to us, so hopefully it feels like a natural progression of the show, not just a stand-alone musical. We also have a stand-alone musical that is going to be available for everyone after the show airs. Starting at 8:00, the 35-minute version of just the musical is going to be available on the Freeform app and there will be extended versions of the performances and all that stuff, and then the album is going to launch on iTunes right as the show airs as well. I hope everyone goes out and buys those songs and it just takes off and people fall in love with it as much as we have.
Photo and Video Courtesy of Freeform