Harlem Summer Shakespeare's ROMEO & JULIET Begins Tonight at Riverbank State Park
HARLEM SUMMER SHAKESPEARE begins its 10th season of FREE SHAKESPEARE in Riverbank State Park with ROMEO AND JULIET tonight, July 23rd and continues through August 17th, with the official opening on July 24th at 8 pm. The company returns to the Riverside Amphitheatre in Riverbank State Park, Riverside Drive at 145th Street, overlooking the Hudson River. Performances are Wednesdays through Sundays at 8 PM.
Artistic Director Alexa Kelly said: "Continuing our tradition of making Shakespeare a part of today's world, this year's production of R&J will be visually contemporary, whilst keeping Shakespeare's language intact. The goal of Harlem Summer Shakespeare is to bring Shakespeare to new audiences. We use familiar, contemporary visuals, motifs and sounds, to bring the audience closer to the story being told on stage. ROMEO AND JULIET will be presented like a crime story in the style of TV's Law and Order. As an extra source of contemporary excitement for young people, the clan action will also include some STEPPING (as in Fraternity competition face-offs). "
Over the past 10 years, HARLEM SUMMER SHAKESPEARE has presented popular and critically acclaimed productions of TWELFTH NIGHT, THE TEMPEST, the ever-popular A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (3 times! by special request from the Park), ROMEO AND JULIET, MACBETH, and AS YOU LIKE IT set in the NJ Mafia world. The New York Times said of the company's first production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM: "The audience - which did not resemble any audience I have seen at the Delacorte or any other mainstream Shakespeare venue-obviously loved it!" The 2007 production of THE TEMPEST, where Izod shirts replaced Elizabethan ruffs, continued the company's tradition of making Shakespeare immediate and accessible to audiences new to Shakespeare as well as to those familiar with the Bard. MACBETH was set in Afghanistan, and critically proclaimed "an extraordinarily innovative production". The Village Voice said of our MIDSUMMER... touring Harlem Shakespeare production that "even when the Mr. Softee truck came by, the children sat transfixed and did not leave--high praise indeed!"
ROMEO AND JULIET, directed by Alexa Kelly, features Stella Heath as Juliet, (Orlando Shakespeare Festival, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, Beijing Shakespeare Festival); Jordan Bellow as Romeo (South Coast Repertory Players); Thia Stephan as Lady Capulet (Brunswick Square Theatre, London, Boomerang Th. NYC, Puck/Harlem Summer Shakespeare); Marina Barry as Nurse (Asolo Theatre); Michael Gilpin as Friar (Bottom & Petruchioi/Harlem Summer Shakespeare); Brian Richardson as Lord Capulet (Metropolitan Playhouse, Barter Theatre, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Macbeth & Malvolio/Harlem Summer Shakespeare), Jonathan Hicks as Mercutio (Milwaukee Rep., Chicago Shakespeare, Colorado Shakespeare); Karim Sekou as Paris, (Classical Theatre of Harlem, Titania/Harlem Summer Shakespeare); Colleen McGloin as Benvolio, John L. Payne as Prince; James Ross as Balthasar; Ricardy Fabre as Gregory; Gregory Cioffi as Samson; Kim Rachelle Harris as Montague (Shenandoah Music Theatre, York Theatre, Mill Mountain Playhouse), and Israel Gutierrez as Tybalt (Virginia Shakespeare,Marvell Rep).
Alexa Kelly is the creator of Harlem Summer Shakespeare and has directed all ten of HSS's critically acclaimed productions. Ms. Kelly, the co-founder (in 1989), and Artistic Director of Pulse Ensemble Theatre said "We love that we filled a void for FREE theatre in Harlem 10 years ago, when there was no free theatre in Harlem at all. This is a very special anniversary year for Shakespeare, and we are proud that it is a very special tenth anniversary year for us!"
ROMEO & JULIET has costume design by David Anthony Crowley with lighting design by Steve O'Shea, scenic design by Bob Miller, fight choreography by Joseph Pisapia, and sound design by Brian Richardson.
For additional information, visit www.pulseensembletheatre.org or call (212) 695-1596.
Photo by Justyn Richardson