J.C. Schütz & Johan Pettersson's Carnival Tale - A musical adaptation of Romeo and Juliet


With themes like racism and social class, betrayal and forgiveness, and the fight for the right to live your own life, Tivolisaga (Carnival Tale) is a timeless and surprisingly comic take on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

In a distant past, a travelling carnival arrives from abroad to a small Swedish town. The star jester Punch instantly falls in love with the mayor's daughter Judy, none of them aware that she is to be married off to a wealthy gentleman from Verona.

Originally written in Swedish, Tivolisaga opened at the Arbis Theatre in Norrköping on 24 August 2013, and the sold-out opening performance received a 10-minute standing ovation.

The fact that Tivolisaga was premiered in Norrköping has a direct connection to Shakespeare. 237 years earlier, Norrköping was the first Scandinavian city ever to perform Shakespeare. The year was 1776 and the play was... Romeo and Juliet.



Some two hundred years ago, somewhere in Sweden, the ageing Mayor of a small town is welcoming two rich gentlemen from Verona - Valentine, who has come to court the Mayor's daughter Judy on her 16th birthday, and his friend Proteus. In the middle of the celebration, a traveling carnival arrives, headed by the Carnival Director introducing Punch, the famous jester, and declaring the carnival open (”Shakespeare Street”).
      Punch sees Judy in the crowd and tries to impress her with a coin magic trick. Valentine and Proteus instantly accuse him of having stolen the coin and then drag him off the premises. Everyone leaves the stage except for the Priest, who takes on the role of Narrator, telling the audience about Punch and Judy.

The following day, Punch reflects on the events and why people are so prejudiced (”Tivoli Theme (Instrumental)”). He remembers Judy, and regrets not having talked to her more (”Be Something Big”). His friend Antilles reminds him of the fact that the Mayor's daughter would never fall in love with a poor person like Punch.

The Priest, a long-time friend of Judy's family, briefly explains that Punch can't stop thinking about Judy and has started to write long poems.
     Punch has found out where Judy lives and walks up to the door with a poem and a bouquet of flowers, which he leaves outside and then knocks at the door before hiding behind a rosebush in the big garden. As Judy opens the door, she discovers the poem and the flowers and starts to read, believing it's from Valentine. With Punch disheartened in the garden, and Valentine in an imagined appearance, the song turns into a trio (”My World is Lightyears From Yours”).

Disappointed, Punch strolls into the woods behind the carnival field and comes across a mysterious woman introducing herself as Rosetta, living by herself with her marble statues that suddenly begin to dance (”Statues (Introduction)”). Punch asks her to sculpture them two together (”Statues”).
      Suddenly, Valentine and Judy enter and Punch hides behind a statue. Valentine asks Rosetta to unveil the statue he has had her made as a present for Judy; Judy is abashed to see that the statue is a life-size version of Valentine himself. As they exit. Rosetta advices Punch to stop hesitating about Judy and ask her out (”My World is Lightyears from Yours (Reprise 1)”).

Punch walks up to Judy's door, and as he's trying to think of something to say, she opens the door. He invites her to come with him to the carnival field and watch the rehearsal for the evening show. They arrive at the carnival just in time to see the performance of the Siamese Twins (”Twin Pirouette”).

After the rehearsal Punch shows Judy the carousel and she asks how the carousel can spin. An overgrown man, Tempest, steps out of she shadows and Judy learns that he is responsible for rotating the carousel by walking in circles pulling a rope, and he tells Judy about his life (”Ain't Getting Anywhere”). Punch then explains that Tempest is like a brother to him, and as the evening is approaching and Judy needs to go back home, she asks Punch why he asked her out and it seems like they are both beginning to fall in love (”My World is Lightyears from Yours (Reprise 2)”).

The following day, Valentine and Proteus visit the Mayor, and a plot of bringing Judy to Italy is revealed (”Such a Pleasure”) before they all enter the house. Unknowing of their plans, Judy comes out through the door with a picnic basket and Punch arrives from the garden with a rose in his hand. They secretly walk to the carnival field where Punch loudly declares his love and tells her about his future plans which he thinks will impress her father enough to let her marry him – his flea circus. Marilyn sneaks up on them from behind making fun of Punch, and to her disappointment Punch introduces her as just a carnival worker. The Siamese Twins come running to meet the 'good girl' and they constantly bicker with each other as Punch introduces them. Judy is thrown off guard by meeting all the unusual personalities at the carnival and Punch tells her one doesn't need opinions about everything in life (”Good Boy (Instrumental)”).

Judy visits the Priest in the sacristy to tell him about her feelings for Punch and ask for advice (”Is It Right?”).

Now calmer, the following evening Judy sits in her room writing in her diary that she and Punch are in love and have asked the Priest for his blessing. Punch enters through the window and almost tips over the expensive vase on a pedestal by the window. Judy gets upset and tells him that the vase is the only memory she has after her mother. They talk about the future and she says she is ready to elope with him if she has to. Just when she is about to tell him she loves him, the door is opened and the Mayor walks in. Punch hides behind her bed and overhears when Judy is told she is going to be married off the following week to Valentine and then move with him to Verona. After the Mayor leaves the room. Punch jumps out through the window without saying a word and accidentally bumps into the pedestal. The vase from Judy's mother falls to the floor and breaks into a thousand pieces. Like shadows, the full company enter the stage behind her, symbolising her inner voice, and she begins to pack her suitcase (”Walk Your Own Way”).


At the carnival field, Marilyn is riding the carousel with Punch running beside her and all the carnival workers cheer them on (”All the World is Spinning”). Just as Punch and Marilyn is cuddling, Judy enters the stage with her suitcase. Heartbroken, she breaks up with Punch and dashes off. Punch and Antilles are getting ready to practice their sword swallowing skills when Valentine and Proteus enter as Valentine proclaims that he will be the next Mayor of the town. Punch and Proteus begin a sword fighting duel, and as it starts to get serious Tempest runs in to stop the fight, and is accidentally stabbed by Proteus (”Ain't Getting Anywhere (Instrumental reprise)”).

Punch arrives at Rosetta's garden in the woods, ready to give up and Rosetta asks him why he was with Marilyn if he loves Judy. He says Marilyn never judges him for his mistakes. Rosetta says he bites off more than he can chew, and that it will make him lose everything (”Be Something Big (Reprise)”)
      On his way home, Punch stops to talk to the Priest, who tells him to talk to Judy instead. After Punch has rushed off, the Priest asks God for advice on how to stop the wedding between Judy and Valentine. It is also revealed that Judy's mother is dead and that it was Judy who had found her drowned, and the Priest wonders why God is putting Judy through so many hardships (”Give Me a Sign”).

At the carnival field, people are dancing to old-fashioned music (”Menuett (Instrumental)”). Punch interrupts Judy and Valentine and they start arguing after Punch has asked the orchestra for a different kind of music, with Judy finally leaving and being replaced mid-song by Marilyn, who makes snide comments to Punch, trying to convince him to come back to her (”Fight Tango”). Antilles asks him if he will go after Judy to Verona and bring his flea circus, and Punch says his fleas have died because he forgot to feed them. After Punch humiliates Marilyn she slaps him, and Antilles steps in to defend her (”Marilyn”).
      The Siamese Twins then come running with the news that Tempest has died after the wound he got when he interrupted the duel, and everyone turns against Punch and abandons him. Defeated and exhausted, Punch walks to Judy's house; it's the evening before Judy's wedding, and he is sure that everything is over (”Sleepless”). He falls asleep behind the rosebush in her garden.

Judy comes out through the door and reveals she is disappointed over there not being flowers from Punch at the doorstep. Her Father comes out to ask who she is talking to, and after a moment of hesitation she finally tells her Father that Punch is the love of her life, and her Father responds by revealing a deeply judgemental side and asking her what the world would look like if everyone were born on the same side of the fence. Judy begs him to cancel the wedding, but he says that would be impossible and asks her to try and get some sleep. As he goes back in, Proteus arrives only to give Judy the news that he had a duel with Punch at the carnival, and that it has resulted in one person dying from his wounds.
      Devastated, believing the dead person to be Punch, Judy walks out in the rain and spends the night in the garden (”Soon the Sun will Rise”), and as the dawn begins to break she discovers Punch's lifeless body. Punch then suddenly wakes up, and asks her if it's too late for them, and she says no, it's not too late. Antilles comes to get Punch as the carnival is about to leave and Judy says they must all make something good come out of the whole situation.

The carnival field is now empty, and the travelling carnival is ready to leave (”All the World is Spinning (Instrumental reprise)”). The Mayor arrives together with Valentine, Proteus and the Priest, and says Judy is missing and must be found as the wedding is to take place within a few hours. The Carnival Director explains that Punch is also missing and that they must leave because of the incident. The Mayor, who has not been informed of the duel, is shocked to hear about the death of Tempest, and after Valentine and Proteus try to gloss over the death, claiming they protected Judy's honour, the Mayor decides to cancel the wedding. He asks the Carnival Director if the travelling carnival has space to take him in (”Finale - Live Your Life”).