The Classical Theatre of Harlem’s production of “Romeo and Juliet,” directed by Justin Emeka, opened last night at Marcus Garvey Park. This is the company’s second season in the park, following an uproarious run of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” last summer. After attending a performance last year, I had been waiting for this summer’s play to hit the stage. I was not disappointed – once again the company magnificently brought the classic play to real life.
The company’s interpretation of Romeo and Juliet captured the play’s spirit in Harlem, with a multi-racial and multi-cultural cast, adapting the dark love story to modern times. Between break-dancing, late-night rendezvous, a reggae dance party, and disappointed parents, Romeo and Juliet (played by Sheldon Best and Natalie Paul) attempted to free themselves from their family’s feuds to be together. Best and Paul brought their characters’ emotions and desperation to life, going to extremes to be with their partner.
This cast exemplified each characters’ desire to do the right thing against all odds, and facing the disastrous consequences. Lord and Lady Capulet (Jason Delane and Dorcas Sowunmi) wanted a stable marriage for their daughter Juliet, causing her utter despair; the nurse (Jamie Rezanour) only wanted Juliet to be happy; the Friar (or Sister Laurence, played by Zainab Jah) wanted to bring the Montague and Capulet families together through Romeo and Juliet’s love. Each characters’ actions resulted in ruin and tragedy, which then led the feuding families to reconcile.
As an uptown resident, I applaud the company for bringing a free, accessible theatrical event to the community and I look forward to many more successful seasons. Support uptown theater and make this performance a must-see this month.
Where: Marcus Garvey Park, Richard Rodgers Ampitheater (to find the theater, enter at 124th Street and 5th Avenue)
When: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 7:30, Friday at 8:15 through July 27 (no performance Tuesday, July 8). Runs under 2 hours.
More information: Classical Theatre of Harlem
See another Uptown Flavor Post on CTH’s production