Romeo & Juliet

Story by Jennifer Regalado, photos by Steven Schreiber

The Theater Department at Lehman College debuted its version of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet this month with a diverse cast that captured the spirit of the story of an ill-fated young couple in love.

The cast of 18 people delivered a modern, hip, and funny performance of the well-known tale that ends in tragedy.

Dexter Thomas-Payne and Madelyn Sher played the racially diverse couple of Romeo and Juliet who came from feuding families, the Montagues and the Capulets. Both Payne and Sher were convincing as the star-struck lovers.

Associate Professor David Sullivan directed the interpretation which was original in its casting.  Juliet’s parents were black and Hispanic while she was white.

“I was trying to use color blind casting,” said Sullivan. “I wanted to show the diversity within the students,” he adds.

The comical duo of Joshua Santiago who played Mercutio and Edgard Toro who played Benvolio had the audience laughing as soon as they stepped on the stage.

“Like always, Mercutio is the best character,” said Daarina Herriott an audience member and junior at Lehman College.

Likewise sorrow was felt all through the room when Tybalt, played by Arsenio Garcia, killed Mercutio. Garcia’s Tybalt was intense and resentful.

“He [Garcia] portrayed his character amazingly and also dominated the stage,” said Lyanne Mata, another audience member and senior at Lehman.

“Tybalt wasn’t that much of a challenging role in terms of acting since he has brief moments, but the fight choreography was definitely a challenge,” Garcia said.

The play took place on a stark stage, with props limited to towering letters which spell out the name Verona. “I wanted something simple, so I used a word to represent where they are,” said Sullivan. Sullivan also said that the use of tarnished metal on the letters was to indicate that the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets had been going on for a long time.

 Romeo & Juliet

Direction: David Sullivan; Dance Choreography: Amy Larimer; Fight Choreography: Carlo Rivieccio; Set Design: Jasol Bolen; Costume Design: Dede Ayite; Lighting Design: Xavier Pierce; Sound Design: David Sullivan. Tech Production: Chris Higgins.

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