The entire sixth grade has to read Romeo and Juliet for school, but to make things more interesting, they're actually going to put on a shortened version of the play. To complicate things, half the class has a massive flu that they keep passing around. Jessica and Lila war over who will win the lead role, and whoever loses will have to wear a face full of fake warts.
Amy compares her relationship with Ken to the one between Romeo and Juliet, and then she decides that it perfectly describes Elizabeth and Todd. Jessica stumbles in, wearing a crown made of aluminum foil and giving some weird and random speech. She tells them that it's more important that she get into character, and they point out that she really needs to read the play. They later find her crying because it's so sad.
Jessica completely throws herself into the play. She rehearses so much that even Steven and Elizabeth can recite the lines along with her. Alice and Ned are impressed that she's so focused on something relating to school, and even Steven seems excited to learn more about the play.
Amy spends the night and hears Jessica sounding a little hoarse. By the next day, she can't talk and can barely move. Alice makes her stay home from school, which infuriates Janet. She tells Elizabeth that Jessica is faking because she knows she'll lose to Lila and that they won't call off the bet if she doesn't audition. Elizabeth agrees to help but she still seems sick.
Alice refuses to let her go to school unless she's well. Jessica sneaks out of the house to go to school, but the nurse sends her home early, and Alice makes her an appointment at the same time as the auditions. Since Elizabeth knows the lines as well as she does, Jessica cons her into taking her spot and auditioning for her. They practice all night long until she learns what to do.
Elizabeth freaks out during the audition and can't talk. The teacher snaps at her, and she recovers to actually audition. Everyone goes crazy because she does so well, and she's walking on air until the teacher calls her Jessica. When Jessica finally goes back to school, she learns that she won the lead role.
Liz decides that she can't handle Jessica stealing all the credit for her hard work. She tells her twin that she wants the role, and she refuses. Jessica shows up at the first audition, and Elizabeth is already there. They fight some more, which gets pretty boring after awhile. In one chapter, Elizabeth shows up wearing the same sweatshirt as Jessica. Jessica throws off her sweatshirt to show another shirt, which Elizabeth also has. She then pulls off that shirt to show something different. Elizabeth rips her shirt and throws her cloths across the room so Jessica can't go out there.
Lila ordered a specially made Juliet costume from New York, and it turns out that she got two. She offers to give Jessica one to keep Elizabeth away, but only if Jessica plays sick for a few scenes on opening night so she can go on. Liz messes up and Amy and Maria learn who she is, but they agree to help her take over the role. Jessica points out that the costume will never leave Lila's sight until the play.
Jessica decides to trick her mom into thinking that Elizabeth has the same flu that she did, but it only works for a few days. Elizabeth gets caught up in the role because she gets to act beside Todd, and she refuses to let her twin play Juliet.
Opening night arrives, and Amy and Maria trip Lila so they can steal the costume. Elizabeth actually plays Jessica and gets the dress. Jessica makes Lila give her the backup dress, and she manages to knock Elizabeth down and get a few lines in the play. She then has Lila give Amy a soda dosed with cold medicine to give to Liz. Todd has a tickle in his throat, so she gives it to him instead.
Elizabeth pretends like she's Jessica and tells the teacher that Liz is ruining the play. He makes Jessica go to the dressing room and stay there for the rest of the play. Todd passes out on stage because of the cold medicine, and Amy convinces Jessica to get into his costume and finish the play. Somehow, that makes everything okay and the twins stop fighting.
*This is the book that made me call a twelve year old girl a cunt. Seriously, Elizabeth is horrible in this book! She keeps saying that she's proud of Jessica focusing so much on school and watches her twin rehearse constantly. She spends like three hours working and decides that she deserves the lead role.
*Is this really an appropriate play for sixth graders? I was in an advanced class and read it as a freshman, but my school didn't make the regular classes read it until sophomore year.
*I need some of this cold medicine! The last time I was sick, I took nighttime medication and waited an hour for it to start working. Todd passes out after like 20 minutes.
*By the way, they have exactly two weeks to work on the play. The teacher announces the play and gives them one week before auditions, and the play takes place one week after the auditions.
*There's a funny moment where Bruce points out that the best choice for Juliet is Maria and then picks Mandy. Since when is Mandy a big fan of acting?
*I love that Maria is a child actor, and we get that shoved down our throats constantly, but when it comes time for acting, she never wants to participate.
*I didn't think I read this book before but now I'm not sure. There's a scene where Jessica is rehearsing the death scene with a tinfoil dagger. Steven and Elizabeth wander in and recite the lines with her, and it seemed really familiar.
*Todd conveniently becomes an actor in this book. Any other time, we'd get a book about Bruce in the lead role.