Bradley Bredeweg & Cierra Ramirez Talk R+J Musical & “The Fosters” Season Finale – Read Our Q&A!

The time has come! Tonight we will finally see what Brandon (David Lambert), Mat (Jordan Rodrigues), and Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) have been working on all semester!

In “R+J: A Romeo & Juliet Tale,” Mat (Rodrigues) and Mariana (Ramirez) are forced to face the depth of their feelings for each other as they perform the parts of Romeo and Juliet on the show’s big opening night. The musical performance also sparks heightened emotions for members of the Adams-Foster family, causing them to each reflect on recent events. Meanwhile, a domestic violence call leads Stef (Teri Polo) to a tragic discovery. Ashley Argota, Corbin Bleu, Anna Grace Barlow, and Garrett Clayton guest star — the feels!

CelebSecrets4U caught up with Cierra Ramirez and executive producer Bradley Bredeweg to talk about “R+J: A Romeo & Juliet Tale.” In our interview, they opened up about why tonight’s episode is a musical, what the atmosphere was like on set while filming and how important the issue of teen suicide is across the United States today. Cierra and Bradley also dropped some hints on what we can expect from the season 3 finale — make sure to read the full Q&A below!

“R+J: A Romeo & Juliet Tale” airs Monday, March 21, 2016 at 8:00pm ET on Freeform.

CS4U: This week you have the musical episode, so can you just tell us, Bradley, why you decided to do a musical for an episode?

Bradley Bredeweg: “Well this time last year I did a show here in town that ran for about six weeks –I’m sorry six months — where we incorporated Romeo & Juliet with very popular 80s music and it just worked so well and I loved kind of juxtaposing those two worlds together, and when the show closed, I just missed it a lot (laughs), and then when we came into the room here at The Fosters and started breaking season 3B and we started looking at all the stories we were telling, the love stories in particular, mostly on our teens, and we started to realize that we were telling different versions of Romeo & Juliet, coupled with the fact that we then started to talk about Brandon’s senior thesis project that was coming up at Anchor Beach and everything he had went through after Idyllwild and Callie and how they really were star-crossed lovers, we decided what better way for him to deal with all of that than to pour his heart out into a senior thesis project and create this kind of epic, massive, rock opera version of Romeo & Juliet, so when we put those two things together and started to put those stories up on the board, we just fell in love with it and we went for it.”

Nicole Wilder/Freeform

CS4U: Cierra, how excited were you when you found out about the musical episode?

Cierra Ramirez: “I was so excited. I didn’t even know what I was getting myself into though, but the one thing I love about playing Mariana is that they always keep me on my toes with whatever she’s getting into next. I feel like she’s never going to stop doing anything. I was really excited to go into it. The whole process was crazy to me because it was unlike anything I’ve ever done or unlike anything that you’ve ever seen on The Fosters. I am really excited to see how it all turned out.”

Bradley Bredeweg: “I just want to say really quickly that a few years ago we came across some videos of Cierra singing online and she had been sharing some of her music of us, and we especially saw this one of young Cierra singing on stage at The Apollo in New York City (laughs) and the girl can sang, so we always knew we had this triple threat in our back pocket, so when we started talking about this, we naturally put Cierra into the conversation, and because of everything Mariana was going through as well, she just became our perfect Juliet.”

Cierra Ramirez: “Aw thank you.”

Nicole Wilder/Freeform

CS4U: How much time did you guys spend getting this episode together? What went into the rehearsals and the production for the episode?

Bradley Bredeweg: “I mean, look, our schedule never stops. We only have 7 days to shoot an episode and a week’s worth of prep, so once we started to put this together, we just brought everyone on board. We brought Brad Hooks on board who has been writing all of Brandon’s music for us since we started the show, and we brought a choreography friend of mine on board named Chris Downey, and then, of course, the entire crew that we have here. It was just all hands on deck and we still shot the episode in 7 days. We still mostly only prepped the episode in one week and I’m just proud of everyone for coming together and really making this happen.”

CS4U: Can you talk us through the episode “EQ” where the musical was put in jeopardy because some students felt it glorified suicide? Why was that storyline so important for you to tell?

Bradley Bredeweg: “Because it’s actually happening around our country, especially in states like Texas, where all these new people are joining the Boards of Education and they’re deciding the fates of students across the country, and works like Romeo and Juliet are being banned from high school libraries and school curriculums, and we think it’s a tragedy, and we wanted to explore that aspect of education on our show, and because this story in particular does deal in teen suicide, even though really what Shakespeare is really saying is, you know, it’s ridiculous that these two lovers fell in love so quickly and they devoted themselves to each other, we wanted to tell both sides of that story and explore what’s going on within the country right now.”

Nicole Wilder/Freeform
Nicole Wilder/Freeform

CS4U: Mariana has been introduced to her biological father now. Can you both talk about why you decided to bring Gabe onto the show and introduce the twins to their father?

Bradley Bredeweg: “Well now that we’re in the end of season 3, or where we started the story it was season 3, our show is a family tree and our family tree is a really big one and we told the story of Ana from the very beginning of the show, and every season we get in the room, we talk about who the twins’ father might have been and we always knew eventually we would get there because at some point as you start to grow, even though the moms really truly are the twins’ moms and this really truly is their family, I think you do start to ask questions and you do start to wonder. Some people may not, but I think most do, so for us it’s a natural extension of the family tree and I’m glad we’re telling it. I think it’s an important part of the twins’ history.”

Nicole Wilder/Freeform
Nicole Wilder/Freeform

CS4U: Can either of you tease anything about the season finale?

Cierra Ramirez: “Well, after this episode and the musical coming into play, she’s less kind of torn between her feelings for both Mat and Nick. As the season progressed, she’s gotten deeper into her relationship with Nick and he’s a great guy for her. He’s done so much for her. He’s letting her use his dad’s warehouse for the play and he’s nothing but sweet to her, but she’s never really gotten over Mat and her whole situation with him, and becoming Romeo and Juliet alongside him, has just been very hard for her because it definitely has not helped her move on whatsoever, and you’ve seen in this episode how those feelings have definitely — it’s just undeniable — and we’ll get deeper into that decision, and you know, she was kind of betrayed by Zoe who has always been kind of out to get her, and we found out about that letter, so Nick definitely knows about the feelings there. It’s no longer a secret, so we’ll see how it all kind of unravels in the next episode.”

Bradley Bredeweg: “And I will also say that because we end on a pretty big moment in Episode 19, a pretty tragic moment for the family, then obviously we explore all of those repercussions within the finale, especially on Callie and Justina and the foster care system and what our ending to Episode 19 means for them in particular.”

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