"ROMEO AND JULIET" by William Shakespeare (2008)
3 Images of scenes from the play (ALL PHOTOS BY CAROL ROSEGG)
Emily Young and Gregg Mozgala
Nick Viselli and George Ashiotis
Gregg Mozgala and Emily Young
The New York Times said of Emily Young's performance: “her marvelous Juliet is fresh and vibrant throughout, and especially so in that most familiar of scenes, the one with the balcony. Oh, and she makes a pretty good Mercutio too.” They said the production was “no 15-Minute Shakespeare novelty”… and that “the multirole casting is interesting in and of itself… the approach works surprisingly well.” The review continuted to state that actor Gregg Mozgala (Romeo and other roles), “who has cerebral palsy, in particular shatters the myth that actors with mobility problems make for static productions, throwing himself around the stage with abandon.” This is wonderful in terms of our goal of changing public perceptions of disability.
NYtheatre.com said “you owe it to yourself to see this current production… the time will melt away as you get pulled into the energy and emotion of the story.”
Play Shakespeare.com raved “Productions like this are the best example of why live theatre so deservedly continues to endure and thrive, and how such risk-taking can redefine the parameters of future envelopes to be pushed… this will be a really tough act for future Romeo and Juliet productions to follow.”
The timeless, tragic tale of two young lovers whose untimely deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. The production is traditional, rigidly faithful to Shakespeare’s rules and form, yet wonderfully fresh and modern. The story takes place on NYC’s Upper East Side; the Capulets are the nouveau riche, the Montagues, old money. Shakespeare is incredibly precise about real time in Romeo and Juliet, tracing five days – Sunday dawn to Friday dawn in mid-July. In TBTB’s production, the time progression will be perfectly clear, taking the audience through each day’s dawn, bright noon, sunset, and night. And the “two hours traffic of our stage” will actually take two hours.
TBTB has achieved great success with Shakespearean plays presented during the past two seasons – A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet. The New York Times said that A Midsummer Night’s Dream was “an inspired choice for Theater By The Blind… fascinating… ingenious,” and “the most intriguing thing is how the company stages the play with just six actors.” The Times called Hamlet: “Playful, punchy, contemporary… An admirable, often intriguing production… with actors who show signs of having actually analyzed Shakespeare’s language… the audience can understand the meaning of every word.” Nytheatre.com said, “A well acted marvel of economy and energy… Fresh and accessible… As involving and engaging a production as I think it’s possible to have.”
Emboldened by these successes, TBTB tackles Romeo and Juliet with four actors playing all of the roles, without cutting a single scene, character or entrance. As Shakespeare’s company made more money, the playwright wrote for larger casts, but Romeo and Juliet is an early play, created when he likely worked with a smaller company. It’s designed as a quartet; key doubles are Juliet/Mercutio, Romeo/Lady Capulet, Nurse/Friar and Capulet/Benvolio. The doubling brings out the sense of fun in the play, joining its sad and joyous elements into an exuberant life-affirming whole.