ROMEO AND JULIET
COMPANY IN "ROMEO AND JULIET"
Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" exquisitely pleads for similar and neighboring peoples to stop killing each other for reasons they no longer remember. In The Drilling Company's production for Bryant Park Shakespeare, presented July 17 to August 2, the play is set in a modern city which is divided by wealth and class. Directed by David Marantz, it aims to send a clear message about the violence that can result from social division and corporate greed.
In Marantz's "contemporary" version of Verona, the city is dominated by religion and divided between rich and poor. Everybody carries weapons openly, which leads to fighting on the streets. Capulet industries, run by Juliet's wealthy, conservative family, is running the town. Romeo hails from a different wealthy family that funds social activism; they run the Montague Center for Social Justice. Class conflict has created a modern dystopia from which the two lovers want to flee. Such a milieu enables some innovative character choices, for example, Mercutio is no longer just a hothead. Played by a woman, the character will be transformed into an impulsive firebrand activist. Tybalt is Head of Security for Capulet Industries. In the balcony scene, Romeo must overcome the video surveillance that protects the wealthy.
For this production, the performing area is on the Bryant Park Stage, which is across the park from the Upper Terrace Steps, at the Fountain Terrace near Sixth Avenue, with audience on the gravel and lawn. As always, admission is free, nearby food kiosks serve affordable meals, capacious rest rooms are close at hand and seating on bistro chairs is guaranteed for everyone. Best of all, there is no waiting in line for tickets.
The Drilling Company, known for its intrepid, bare-boned Shakespeare in the Parking Lot productions, made its Bryant Park debut last spring with "Hamlet," the inaugural production of Bryant Park Shakespeare. This year, the troupe has been invited back for a three-show season. It performed "The Two Gentlemen of Verona," set in New York's Little Italy, May 15 to 31 directed by Hamilton Clancy. It will perform "The Taming of the Shrew" September 4 to 20, directed by Alessandro Colla.
Andrew Gombas plays Romeo and Ivory Aquino plays Juliet. The cast also includes Robert Agis as Balthasar, McKey Carpenter as Tybalt, Elowyn Castle as the Nurse, Robert Cordell as Apothecary, Anwen Darcy as Mercutio, James Davies as Capulet, Joshua Downs as Peter, Tori Ernst as serving woman, Jonathan Eric Foster as Friar Lawrence, Skyler Gallun as Benvolio, Ziv Gidron as Paris, Geoffrey Grady as Montague, Tygar Hicks as Lady Montague/Chorus, Mary Linehan as Prince and Carolyn Popp as Lady Capulet. Costume design is by Lisa Renee Jordan. Set design is by Jennifer Varbalow.
David Marantz (Director) is Associate Artistic Director of The Drilling Company, where he has been an actor and director since 2002. He has appeared in seven Shakespeare in the Parking Lot productions when he played Thurio in "The Two Gentlemen of Verona," Mercutio "Romeo and Juliet," Sir Toby Belch and Malvolio in "Twelfth Night," Falstaff in "Merry Wives of Windsor" and Lucio in "Measure for Measure." He has directed five new works for The Drilling Company, but this is his first tiem directing Shakespeare. He has performed around New York and the country, as well as on TV and film. He was co-producer, actor and director for the webseries "Off Off" (www.offoffwebseries.com). He has narrated over 60 audiobooks for Audible.com.
Andrew Gombas (Romeo) played Valentine in the recent production in Bryant Park of "The Two Gentlemen of Verona." His regional credits include "Cymbeline" (Ohio Shakespeare Company), "Cock, a Civil War Christmas" (Dobama Theater), "Iphigenia 2.0, Inquietude" (Cleveland Public Theater), and "Seminar" (Beck Center). He spent two years with Great Lakes Theater teaching and performing Shakespeare in North East Ohio and has toured and performed extensively as a musician and storyteller
Ivory Aquino (Juliet) is a company member of The Drilling Company and The Bats (at The Flea Theater) and was a founding company member of Leviathan Theatre Lab. Her Shakespeare in the Parking Lot producions include "Othello" (Desdemona), "Julius Caesar" (Marc Antony), "Measure for Measure" (Isabella) and "Henry V" (Katherine). With Leviathan Lab's Shakespeare Quartet Project, she has appeared in "As You Like It" as Rosalind. Her other Off-Broadway credits include Ma-Yi Theatre's "365 Days/365 Plays" at The Public Theater.
AND WRITEUPS OF SEASONS