Fairfield University guest artists Barbra Berlovitz and Sonya Berlovitz present an edgy version of "Romeo and Juliet"


Image: Berlovitz and Burke
(Left to right) Alexandra Burke '11 as Juliet works with director Barbra Berlovitz on a scene.

Fairfield University presents the climactic R&J Project event: guest artists director Barbra Berlovitz and costume designer Sonya Berlovitz have created a contemporary, edgy and revolutionary production of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." The play will enjoy an unusual extended Theatre Fairfield run that coincides with the anniversary of William Shakespeare's birth on April 23rd. It opens at the Wien Experimental Theatre in the Quick Center for the Arts on Tuesday, April 20, and plays through Saturday, April 24, at 8:00 p.m. with a 2:00 p.m. Saturday matinee; the run continues on Monday, April 26, and runs through Wednesday, April 28, at 8:00 p.m. This nine-performance presentation is part of the Arts & Minds season.

Director Berlovitz, a co-founder of the Tony Award®-winning theater company, Theatre de la Jeune Lune and costume designer Sonya Berlovitz - who happens to be the director's sister as well as costume designer for most of the Jeune Lune shows throughout its existence - have spent the spring semester on the Fairfield University campus creating a dynamic ensemble in the style of the 30-year-old internationally acclaimed Theatre de la Jeune Lune.  Closed in June of 2008, Theatre de la Jeune Lune was known for its innovative renditions of classic plays and original works.

Image: Berlovitz and students
(Left to right) Halimat Somotan '12 (Friar Lawrence), Michael Maio '13 (Paris) and Alexandra Burke '11 (Juliet) take direction from Barbra Berlovitz (center).

Director Berlovitz places special emphasis on the feuding of the Capulet and Montague families. "The play itself is very topical," she says. "It is entrenched in forever. There are people fighting each other and not really knowing why." In a nod to the contemporary nature of the play's violence, Berlovitz's production underscores the essential similarities in behavior between the 17th and 21st centuries.

While the play retains Shakespeare's original texts, the concept and staging have a present-day sensibility. The love story between Romeo and Juliet is present while the violence of bigotry and prejudice stir the familiar innocent love story in a potent cauldron that reaps tragic yet preventable disasters.

This exciting production is made possible by a generous grant from The College of Arts and Sciences Board of Advisors to the Department of Visual & Performing Arts which spearheaded a campus-wide, cross-disciplinary educational project that became known as The R&J Project. The funds enabled the theatre program and production wing, of which Theatre Fairfield is the dominant outlet, to invite the two renowned guest artists to become artists-in-residence at Fairfield. 

The "Romeo and Juliet" cast includes Fairfield University library staff member Elise Bochinski (Nurse), Jackie Brown '13 (Sampson), Alexandra Burke '11 (Juliet), Victoria Clougher '12 (Rosaline, Apothecary, and Capulet Gang Member), Glenn Ghirardi '10 (Tybalt), Olivia Giroux '12 (Lady Capulet), Casey Grambo '12 (Peter), Patrick LaRiviere '11 (Gregory & 2nd Watch), Nancy Laskowski '12 (Balthasar), Michael Maio '13 (Paris), Josh Matteo '13 (Romeo), Luke Paulino '13 (Capulet), Jacob Perriello '13 (Abraham & 1st Watch), Pamela Perrimon '12 (Prince), Joe Plouffe '13 (Mercutio & Friar John), Halimat Somotan '12 (Friar Lawrence), Michael Wray '12 (Benvolio), and Amanda Xeller '11 (Lady Montague & Party Girl).

Joining the Berlovitz production team are Zhenya Nayberg (scenic designer), Lynne Chase (lighting designer) and Dr. David Chandler (fight choreographer).

Tickets are $12 for general admission; $6 for seniors & University staff; and $5 for students. They are available online at www.quickcenter.com or by calling the Box Office at (203) 254-4010. The toll free number is 1-877-ARTS-396. Visit the website at www.quickcenter.com for further information. For more information on The R&J Project and additional events visit www.fairfield.edu/cas/randj_about.html.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on March 26, 2010

Vol. 42, No. 245