“Romeo and Juliet” director Tee Quillin pushes his way through eager students to get to the bulletin board where he posts the cast list. Four girls look for their name by “Juliet,” but only one leaves with a smile: Misty Ballew.
Ballew has been involved in many plays at Missouri Western, such as “Night of the Living Dead,” “The Illusion” and “Laughter on the 23rd Floor.” Now, as a junior Theatre & Cinema major with a concentration in performing and directing, Ballew is the leading lady in Western’s production of “Romeo and Juliet.”
Although she wouldn’t have minded playing the male roles of Benvolio or Mercutio, her main goal was to play Juliet. She was not worried about getting the callback, but she was a little wary about not being cast in the play at all.
“It was the final decision that was stressing me out,” Ballew said. “Only four girls were called back for the role of Juliet, which was the only part I was called back for. So if I didn’t get that part, then it was either get the lead or nothing at all.”
Ballew’s audition impressed Quillin when she rubbed off on other people at her tryout.
“During the auditions, when they read with a group of people, the energy that [Ballew] was giving to the other actors in the scene was energy that they could take and use in their own performances, which, in turn, fed her energy in the scene,” Quillin said. “She created an energy cycle, which is what a scene has to be, and she was doing that almost instinctively.”
Quillin said it was a tough decision casting each of the roles, especially for Juliet, but he felt Ballew had a “command of the language” and that she just looked right next to Romeo, played by Kiefer Helsel. Ballew knows Quillin has confidence in her.
“After Tee said that, I felt so much better about being casted,” Ballew said.
After getting the part, Ballew focused on getting in the mindset for Juliet.
“I just try to sympathize with her,” Ballew said. “I mean, how horrible would it be to get married to the love of your life and then find out you have to marry someone else, someone who is way older than you, ugly, and you are only thirteen and you wonder what is going to happen. I just think of how I would feel if I had to be taken away from my boyfriend and marry some old guy that I didn’t like.”
Ballew not only had to work on her character as Juliet, she also had to practice her chemistry with her Romeo, Helsel. Helsel and Ballew met for the first time at the audition.
“The first few times we didn’t really have any communication, but once we had to buckle down and just deal with it, we got it down,” Helsel said. “It’s not that I had a problem with her, I just didn’t know her. I didn’t really know how to go about saying ‘Let’s go practice this love scene.’”
The attraction between the two is the main idea of the play, and now that they know each other a little better, it will come more naturally.
Overall, Ballew is ready to be Juliet.
“My favorite part about Juliet is she is so tragically beautiful in everything she does. She is just one hot mess, and she’s good at it. She is a beautiful disaster.”