Bay Ridge

Audience gets to take part in brooklynONE’s ‘Romeo + Juliet’

October 10, 2014 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
BrooklynONE productions is presenting an interactive, immersive version of Shakespeare’s “Romeo + Juliet” at Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Bay Ridge.

It’s where Shakespeare meets “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” — and it’s taking place in southwest Brooklyn.

Audience members will get the chance to interact with the cast in a new version of the Shakespeare classic “Romeo + Juliet” that is being presented by brooklynONE productions later this month.

“This is Shakespeare like Bay Ridge has never seen it before. We’re putting the audience right in the middle of the story,” said Anthony Marino, co-founder and artistic director of brooklynONE, a theater group based in Bay Ridge.

“Romeo + Juliet” will be presented at Saint John’s Episcopal Church, 461 99th St., Oct. 24 (8 p.m.), Oct. 25 (3 p.m. and 8 p.m.) and Oct. 26 (3 p.m.)  There will also be a special Halloween performance on Oct. 31 at 9 p.m., along with pre-show and post-show costume parties.

What makes this production different is that the action doesn’t take place just on a stage, but in various rooms in the church’s parish hall. Members of the audience will be invited to roam from room to room to not only take in the action, but also to take part in it.

The idea is to take the audience out of their seats and straight into the action, according to Marino and Director Gianna Cioffi.

“The audience is completely free to follow their whims,” Cioffi said. “People always say that they don’t ‘understand’ Shakespeare, but here the audience won’t just understand it, it will be happening to them. We’re creating a theatrical experience that gives the audience permission not only to watch, but to play along. They can explore almost any part of our space, interact with our actors and become a part of the show.”

The play will begin at a party with the Capulets, which audience members will be encouraged to take part in.

Attending the Oct. 31 show is a perfect way to spend Halloween, Cioffi said.

“We have two spectacular Halloween pre-show parties on the 31st. Our first is geared toward those under the age of 21, while the late night show is for 21 and older. Costumes are encouraged!” she said.

The show stars Rich Powers, Amy Frey, Sarah Summerwell, Jason Weiner, Jo’Lisa Jones, Anthony Noto, William Benton, Shea Kelly, Xavier Clark and Rebecca Smithee.

Tickets are $15 and are on sale now at http://www.brooklynONE.org/featured. Tickets at the door are $20.00.

The brooklynONE production of “Romeo + Juliet” is similar in theatrical form, if not content, to “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding,” a famous off-Broadway comedy from the 1980s that centered on a wedding and reception that audience members took part in. The New York Times reported that the show was revived in April.

BrooklynONE productions was founded in 2006 by Marino and the late Tom Kane, who envisioned the company as a haven for new, bold, alternative and experimental works.

Although the company is based in southwest Brooklyn, its works have been produced throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan.

For information on brooklynONE Productions, visit www.brooklynONE.org/featured.

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