By Carey Purcell
16 Jun 2014
Presented as part of CTH's free summer programming at the recently renovated amphitheater, performances of the free production begin July 5 and continue through July 27.
Romeo n Juliet will be directed by Justin Emeka, who edited and adapted the play to bring characters of Harlem to life.
The young lovers, Romeo (Sheldon Best) and Juliet (Natalie Paul), lead a cast that includes Jamie Rezanour (Nurse), Zainab Jah (Friar/Sister Laurence), Dorcus Sowunmi (Lady Capulet), Jason Delane (Lord Capulet), Jameal Ali (Paris), Emmanuel Brown (Tybalt/Apothecary), Kambi Gathesha (Benvolio), Clark Harris (Montague), Keldrick Crowder (Prince), Ty Jones (Mercutio) and Anthony Lalor (Panther 1/Brother John).
Levell Franklin, Amara Granderson, Patricia Janvier, Jared Lewis and Djaka Souare comprise the ensemble.
"This intense and fiery production continues a movement to reimagine classical theater," press notes state. "RnJ reveals the unpredictable passion of love, barely separated from the unforgiving tragedy of violence. The stage explodes with soulful music, verse and movement, as hip-hop beats and dance-hall rhythms provide the backdrop for a community suffering from internal conflict."
"We are thrilled to blow the dust off this classic to reveal an array of identities within the African Diaspora. Exploring centuries-old themes around love, identity, violence and masculinity through this culturally specific lens is an exceptional and unique offering for the theatrical community," producing artistic director Ty Jones said in a statement. "I am proud that we continue to reinvent these timeless works in ways that connect with young, contemporary, multiracial consumers while satisfying the sensibilities of longtime theater patrons."
"At CTH, we believe that the best art does more than put on a great show; it starts conversations, engenders action and engages a community at all levels (from individual residents and government, to local businesses and nonprofits)," managing director David Roberts added. "We know that the positive economic impact of events like RnJ have a radiant effect on the local economy, and we’re proud to have launched formal partnerships with a number of area small businesses that realize the value that CTH brings not just to their establishments, but to the quality of life of our neighborhood as a whole."
The production, which has a multiracial cast, is designed to bring professional entertainment to the local community, while drawing theatregoers from across the city.
Scenic design is by Anka Lupes with choreography by Lakai Worell (artistic co-director of the Brooklyn dance company Purelements), lighting design by Paul Hudson, sound design by Eric Sluyter, costume design by Rachel Dozier-Ezell, music direction by Chen Lo and fight choreography by Emmanuel Brown.
The Richard Rodgers Amphitheater is located in Marcus Garvey Park (enter at 124th Street and Fifth Avenue and walk south to the venue).
For more information, visit cthnyc.org.