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New Conservatory Theatre Center to Stage Shakespeare's 'R&J'

Twelve years ago it stole the hearts of audiences in San Francisco, and now New Conservatory Theatre Center reimagines Shakespeare's R&J by Joe Calarco, in a powerful, all-new production directed by NCTC's first Artistic Associate Ben Randle. Shakespeare comes alive when four Catholic school teens, break the rules and secretly reenact Romeo and Juliet - the timeless story of dangerous forbidden love. Randle raises the stakes on this "electrifying" (Entertainment Weekly) and "vibrant, hot-blooded adaptation" (The New York Times), as it returns to our stage now set in a Jesuit school in Cairo, Egypt, where revealing who you are can still be a crime.

Shakespeare's R&J runs November 7 - December 14, 2014 in NCTC's intimate Walker Theater. Opening Night is Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 8pm. Tickets are $25 - $45 and are available at or by calling (415) 861-8972.

NCTC previously produced Shakespeare's R&J to much acclaim in 2002, following the play's tremendous success in celebrated runs in New York, London's West End, Australia, Tokyo, and cities all over the U.S.. By setting this tale of discovery and delight amidst a dangerous world of repression, this production continues NCTC's commitment to plays that champion social justice and a shared humanity. As hailed by Variety, R&J is "inspired in its exploration of passion and repression in both Shakespeare's time and our own."

Playwright Joe Calarco's work on Shakespeare's R&J earned him a Lucille Lortel Award Off-Broadway, and he also directed the play's premieres in Chicago (5 Jeff Award nominations including Best Play and Best Director) and Washington, D.C. (Helen Hayes Award nominations for Best Play and Best Director). R&J completed a celebrated run on London's West End in late 2003. Other Off-Broadway credits include Floyd and Clea Under the Western Sky at Playwrights Horizons; Boy and In Transit (Drama Desk Nomination) at Primary Stages; in the absence of spring (writer/director) at Second Stage; Sarah, Plain and Tall at The Lucille Lortel; The Audience (contributing book writer) and Bury the Dead at The Transport Group; Fugitive Songs (Drama Desk nomination) at Dreamlight Theatre Company. He directed the national tour of Ring of Fire, and regionally his credits include Lincolnesque (world premiere) and The Glass Menagerie at The Old Globe; Assassins (Helen Hayes Award), Urinetown (Helen Hayes Award), Side Show (Helen Hayes Award), Nijinsky's Last Dance (Helen Hayes Award), Gypsy, God of Carnage, the world premieres of Nest and The Boy Detective Fails and his own plays In The Absence of Spring and Walter Cronkite is Dead at Signature Theatre; The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (book writer/director) and The Burnt Part Boys at Barrington Stage Company; The Last Five Years (Barrymore Award Best Musical), Elegies (Barrymore nomination), M. Butterfly and The Light in the Piazza (Barrymore Award) at Philadelphia Theatre Co.; Ordinary Days (Barrymore Award) at 11th Hour Theatre Company. As a writer his published works include Shakespeare's R&J, In The Absence of Spring, and Walter Cronkite is Dead. He is a Drama League Directing Fellow and Co-Artistic Director of Breaking Bread Theatre.

Director Ben Randle is NCTC's first-ever Artistic Associate and has directed several acclaimed productions for the Company. Most recently, he co-wrote and directed the World Premiere of Evan Johnson's celebrated solo play Pansy, which played a return engagement at NCTC, following its sold-out premiere run. At NCTC, Randle also directed the West Coast Premiere of The Submission, Treefall, Baptized to the Bone, Don't Ask, and Doubt, for which he received a Bay Area Critics Circle Award nomination for Best Director. Randle's other directing credits include the premiere of JC Lee's Into the Clear Blue Sky for Sleepwalkers Theatre , for which he received BATCC nominations for Best Director and Best Scenic Design; the World Premiere of The Fisherman's Wife by Steve Yockey, and Chalk Boy, by Joshua Conkel, for Impact Theatre; Sweeney Todd for Ray of Light Theatre, for which he received another BATCC Best Director nod; Hold Me Closer, Tiny Dionysus, co-written with trixxie carr for CounterPULSE; and Last Five Years for Poor Man's Players, to name a few. Randle has also worked at California Shakespeare Theater, West Edge Opera, Brava!, and Thrillpeddlers. He has a B.A. from San Francisco State University and was a member of Lincoln Center Theatre Directors Lab 2010.

Shakespeare's R&J cast features Taj Campbell, James Arthur M., Adam Odsess-Rubin, and Mike Sagun.

The full creative team of Shakespeare's R&J includes scenic design by Yusuke Soi, lighting desihn by Christian Mejia, costume design by Jorge R. Hernandez, sound design by Steven Abts, and prop design by Adeline Smith.

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