David Heron Signs On For ROMEO AND JULIET
Award winning actor and playwright David Heron has returned to his classical roots, taking on the role of Lord Montague in the Shakespeare Festival of St Louis production of Romeo and Juliet.
But for the New York based actor , a Shakespeare veteran who has appeared Off Broadway and across the USA in some of the playwright's most famous works, including The Winter's Tale, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, The Tempest, Othello, Henry V and Coriolanus , it is a career that nearly never happened.
The Jamaican born Heron graduated from the University of the West Indies in his native country with a Communications and English degree. He never studied acting. Although he had performed in numerous high school and college productions, he embarked on a highly successful advertising and marketing career after graduating college and had no designs on a life in entertainment.
"My first job after leaving university was with an advertising agency where I was designing campaigns for the likes of Pepsi Cola, Exxon, and the Jamaica Tourist Board," he recalls, "And then one of our agencies' clients - one of the largest banks in the Caribbean- stole me away as their Marketing Manager. I really had all the perks of being a young marketing executive - the company car, great salary, cool apartment... It was a pretty terrific life."
But his yearning to be involved in the arts at some level lead him to write his first play-a romantic comedy titled Ecstasy - which found its way to a Jamaican producer who then mounted the show, resulting in a record breaking two year run.
Two more hugely successful plays- Intermission and Against His Will followed, leading Heron to a slew of awards for his work, and to a life changing decision to quit his banking job to pursue his writing and acting careers full time.
His relocation to New York was fortuitous. His fourth play, Love and Marriage and New York City premiered in Jamaica and would eventually tour regionally in the USA, ultimately leading to an Off Broadway run at the renowned Billie Holiday Theater. Heron, who played a role in the production, stayed on after the show closed and started auditioning for acting roles.
He booked his very first major New York acting job almost immediately - the role of Laertes in a production of Hamlet opposite Timothy D Stickney, and has not looked back since.
"Shakespeare was a very natural fit for me as I was starting out in New York because I had this interesting Jamaican accent that many casting directors didn't quite know what to do with. But producers like Debra Ann Byrd of Take Wing and Soar, who produced Hamlet, and Jim Helsinger at Orlando Shakespeare- who gave me the role that got me my equity card in his wonderful stage adaptation of Robinson Crusoe - knew exactly how to use me. Shakespeare and classical theater have kind of become my mainstay since then."
As of now, he is eagerly looking forward to what he calls "This 'epic' production of Romeo and Juliet," even as he still marvels at how far he has come and the road that brought him here.
"I'm here in St Louis working with a truly incredible director, Elena Araoz, who has directed opera before and who has brought her grand vision to this timeless story. I'll be sharing the stage with some of the finest actors I've ever worked with, and we'll be performing for between 4000 and 6000 people in the park each night. It's like rock star Shakespeare! But the irony for me is that none of this might ever have happened. I'm a kid from Jamaica who took a huge chance- a leap of faith- and left behind a very successful corporate career to do this. People thought I was insane. Even to me now, it's still surreal that I'm here. But I'm loving every minute of it."
The cast of Romeo and Juliet also features Reynaldo Piniella as Romeo and Sigrid Wise as Juliet, along with Patrick Bindauer, Harrison Farmer, Patrice Foster, Esmerelda Garza, Gary Glasgow, Dakota Granados, Karl Hawkins, Daniel Ocanto, Jane Paradise, Michael James Reed, Cherie Corinne Rice, Antonio Rodriguez, Sean Smith, Graham Ulicny,Chris Ware, Terrell Wheeler, and Pete Winfrey.
Romeo and Juliet opens in previews at Forest Park, St Louis on Wednesday May 30.
Opening night is slated for Friday June 1 and the production will run every night at 8pm except Tuesdays until June 24.
See also: - https://www.sfstl.com.