On Thursday, June 11, R & J, Expanded Arts' all-male rendition of Shakespeare's classic tragedy Romeo and Juliet, marked its 162nd performance. That made it the longest running production of the romantic tragedy ever in New York City.
The play, still in an open run, is currently undergoing some cast-changes. Danny Gurwin recently left to replace Keith Byron Kirk in Off-Broadway's A New Brain. Jeremy Peter Johnson has taken his place in R & J. Also, Daniel Shore will leave in two weeks to be replaced by understudy Caesar Samayoa, according to a spokesperson at the Tony Origlio office.
For the record, the previous record holder was a production of Romeo and Juliet which opened at Henry Miller's Theatre on Jan. 24, 1923, and ran for 161 performances. Jane Cowl starred as Juliet; her Romeo was Rollo Peters (who also designed the scenery). The production was, in fact, the second mounting of the classic of the 1922-23 season, following a less successful go around starring Ethel Barrymore, with settings by Robert Edmond Jones.
R & J, adapted and directed by Joe Calarco, tells its familiar story through the musing of four students from a repressive boys school who decide to stage the production for their own enjoyment. The production began life at Expanded Arts' Off-Off-Broadway home earlier this season, before transferring to the John Houseman Studio Theatre on 450 W. 42nd St. The show recently won the 1998 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Achievement.
For ticket information for R & J, call (212) 239-6200. -- By Robert Simonson