Director Saheem Ali continues his audio exploration of William Shakespeare’s canon with Romeo y Julieta – a new bilingual podcast of The Bard’s beloved classic Romeo and Juliet – collaborating with playwright Ricardo Pérez González on an adaptation of noted scholar Alfredo Michel Modenessi’s Spanish translation. The world-premiere production, and the second co-presentation by The Public Theater and New York Public Radio WNYC Studios (following last summer’s four-part radio play, Free Shakespeare on the Radio: Richard II, also directed by Ali), makes its debut on Thursday, March 18, starring Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) and Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Award-winning actor Juan Castano (MCC’s Transfers; The Public’s Oedipus El Rey) as the world’s most famous star-crossed lovers.
Along with the two acclaimed leads, the cast features Carlo Albán (Benvolio), Karina Arroyave (Apothecary), Erick Betancourt (Abram), Michael Braugher (Balthasar), Carlos Carrasco (Lord Montague), Ivonne Coll (Nurse), John J. Concado (Peter), Hiram Delgado (Tybalt), Guillermo Diaz (Gregory), Sarah Nina Hayon (Lady Montague), Kevin Herrera (Ensemble), Modesto Lacen (Prince Escalus/Capulet’s Cousin), Florencia Lozano (Capulet), Irene Sofia Lucio (Mercutio), Keren Lugo (Sister Joan), Benjamin Luis McCracken (Paris’s Page), Julio Monge (Friar Lawrence), Javier Muñoz (Paris), Tony Plana (Chorus), and David Zayas (Sampson). The audio performance is enhanced with original music composed and performed by Michael Thurber (with Jon Lampley on trumpet, Eddie Barbash on alto saxophone, and Mark Dover, on bass clarinet), and sound design by Bray Poor and Jessica Paz (with audio supervision by Poor).
Throughout the day on March 18, WNYC’s sister classical music station WQXR will share works by Tchaikovsky, Rota, Prokofiev, and Berlioz that were inspired by Shakespeare’s timeless story, accessible online and on the radio at 105.9 FM in New York. In addition, audiences around the globe can join a virtual opening night listening party at 7 pm, presented by The Greene Space at WNYC and WQXR. The special event, in English and Spanish, includes live music and an interactive Q&A with Nyong’o, Castano, and the creative team, hosted by WNYC’s Rebeca Ibarra. And you can tune in at 6:45 pm, before the listening party, for a special cocktail demo and pre-show warm-up, offered free of charge on The Greene Space website.
Since 1962, The Public’s annual programming has also included a season of Free Shakespeare in the Park, staged outdoors at The Delacorte Theater in Central Park, in keeping with its mission to engage the community with increased access to great theater. After last year’s cancellation of the previously scheduled Richard II and As You Like It due to COVID-19, the company has announced its plans to return to the park this summer (July 6-August 29) with Merry Wives – a new adaptation by Jocelyn Bioh of Shakespeare’s 1602 comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor, set in a South Harlem community of West African immigrants, directed by Ali, and following all safety protocol. More information and details about free ticket distribution will be forthcoming over the next several weeks.
Romeo y Julieta livestreams on Thursday, March 18, at 7 pm, and is available on demand and for download through March 18, 2022, at The Public Theater website and wherever you get your podcasts. Listening is free to the public, but donations are welcome. To reserve your ticket, go online.