ROMEO AND JULIET: TRIBAL ROCK MUSICAL Announced At Theater for the New City

Composer/Director William Electric Black sets the Bard's text to rock, rap, pop, soul, blues, & gospel music.

By: Mar. 06, 2023
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THE BARD'S DIALOGUE HAS A NEW BEAT - Emmy Award winning writer, director, and composer William Electric Black, aka Ian Ellis James, assembles 13 actors and musicians to perform the actual Romeo & Juliet Shakespearian text with pop, soul, blues, gospel, hip hop, and rock songs written by William Electric Black. William Electric Black gives his high-energy, high-concept production an immersive touch by bringing the Bard right into the audience's lap.

In fact, each night some lucky audience member will be picked to start the show by giving the opening Prologue. You might also see yourself dancing at the Capulet feast or being asked to call for Romeo after she leaps the orchard wall. Romeo & Juliet: Tribal Rock Musical is for today's world as these star-crossed lovers identify as female - and so do Friar Laurence, Benvolio, Paris, The Prince of Verona, and Tybalt. This gender switch, in these typical male roles, is just part of an Electric Black Theater Experience that will have you singing - "What soft through yonder window breaks" or "Rebellious subjects enemies to peace profaners of this neighbor-stained steel".

The show features a live band including two actor/musicians, Elli Casterisano as Friar Laurence (on drums) and Kait Warner as Tybalt (keyboard) with musical direction by William Wagner (bass) and vocal direction is by Kat Yew (keyboard) and Kait Warner.

William Electric Black describes the piece as "tribal" in the sense that "Hair" was labeled a "tribal rock musical." He too has gathered a tribe of actors, musicians, and designers to rally around Shakespeare's language and his timeless love story for the sole purpose of transforming it into a bold, theatrical production. It's not a jukebox musical version nor is it a take-off on the Bard's tragedy. It's Romeo & Juliet with edited book and lyrics by William Shakespeare, flavored with the same an East Village tribal fire that launched Rent, The Blue Man Group, and Hamilton. The glittery -glam Capulets and Montagues with sequin trimmed jean vests created by costume designer Susan Hemley, the Bard's words floating above the raised stage designed by Lytza Colon/Mark Marcante, riveting lighting by Alexander Bartenieff, and the fierce choreography by Lauren Barette will make you stand up and cheer - I DO NOT BITE MY THUMB AT THIS SHOW - I LOVE IT!

***TRIBAL MUSICIANS: Elli Caterisano (drums), William Wagner (bass), Kait Warner (keyboards), Katherine Yew (keyboards)

***TRIBAL ACTORS: William. Electric Black, Paulina Breeze, Elli Caterisano, Tyler Fuentes, Amy Herzberg, Kennedy Jazz, Indigo Phillips, Shayli Reagan, Kamala Rose, Lydia Stevenson, Kait Warner.

***TRIBAL CREW: Stage Manager: Daylon Fernandez - Board Operator: Megan Horan - Graphics: Erikka James - Photographer - Remy.S

William Electric Black aka Ian Ellis James - Emmy Award winning writer (Sesame Street - Nickelodeon - PBS - Lancit Media - Winchester TV & Film - Pinna FM). has been a major part of the downtown theater scene for many years (Theater For The New City - La MaMa ETC.). He is a faculty member at NYU TISCH, Department of Visual and Dramatic Writing. His work re: gun violence prevention and awareness starting with 5 and 6-year-olds has been getting major attention.

In, 2021, Ian wrote, directed, and produced 7 animated shorts - "Food Thoughts", for WTTW - Chicago ( In 2021, Ian was also creative consultant on a children's TV pilot, "Fish On Ice" (

He wrote, directed, and produced animated and live action short films featuring hip hop artists Doug E. Fresh, Chuck D, and Artie Green (Hip Hop Public Health). The short films promoted exercise and healthy living for young children re: obesity prevention. His Gunplays Series produced by Theater For The New City will be published by Applause Theater Books, fall 2023.

Running time: 90 minutes - no intermission - hand strobe

Target audience: Teens and older