In just a few months, Floods Hill will serve as a backdrop to welcome the return of live and local theater. A one-hour adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” will tread the boards this July, as director Nathan Darrow (actor in “House of Cards,” “Gotham”) and producer Susan Hyon have announced the complete six-person cast of “Juliet and Her Romeo.”
In early May 2021, the husband-and-wife team of Darrow and Hyon tapped three Columbia High School students to perform in the Shakespeare adaptation with the goal to mix young actors with seasoned professionals. “It’s part of theater in general, and for Shakespeare, it’s part of the heritage,” says Darrow. “In the original practices, these amazing women’s roles were played by boy actors who apprenticed in a sense. It’s kind of a magic trick that’s being passed along.”
And with that in mind, a full cast is ready to get the rehearsal process started.
Broadway and Shakespeare veteran Alvin Keith will take on the roles of both Mercutio and Friar Laurence. “I worked with Alvin some years ago on “Ambition’s Debt” (Devin Haqq’s 2017 film adaptation of “Julius Caesar.”) I found his work to be formidable and deeply generous. I am giddy to work with him,” says Darrow.
Regional mainstay Kevis Hillocks will play Chorus. “I feel so fortunate to have seen Kevis in “Pass Over” at Luna Stage in early 2020 and to witness some of the process of his work,” says Darrow. “He is possessed of a colossal power matched with great intelligence and sensitivity … a brave and beautiful artist.
The cast will be rounded out by stage and screen performer Patricia Randell, who will appear as the Nurse. “Patricia Randell is a treasure of our theater,” adds Darrow. “She has an honest affection and feeling for the range of human experience and behavior, and she renders them in ways that are constantly sensitive and surprising. I am a huge fan.”
The previously announced cast members include graduating senior Sylvie Schuetz, who will play the role of Romeo, sophomore Madison McGehee who has been cast as Juliet, and Glynnis Goff – also graduating from CHS this spring – who will perform the roles of Benvolio and Prince Escalus.
You can read more about Darrow and his foray into his new passion as a volunteer emergency medical technician.
The show is a partnership with the South Orange Department of Recreation & Cultural Affairs and the Maplewood Department of Recreation & Cultural Affairs and will be performed live on an outdoor stage at Floods Hill in South Orange. There will be six performances over two weekends this summer: July 9-11 and July 16-18. Tickets will be free, with reservations required. For performances, the actors will be unmasked and mic’d. The staging will make creative use of social distancing.
Read more below about the biographies of Alvin Keith, Kevis Hillocks, and Patricia Randell.
Alvin Keith (Mercutio/Friar Laurence) Broadway: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. New York: Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Apollo Theater, New Worlds Theatre Project, New Federal Theatre, and Primary Stages. Regional: Sweat (Huntington Theater); The Orestia (Shakespeare Theatre Company, directed by Michael Khan); Windfall (Arkansas Repertory Theatre, directed by Jason Alexander); Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Swine Palace, Arena Stage, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Guthrie Theater, Virginia Stage Company, Cleveland Play House, Crossroads Theatre Company, and Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Film: Don’t Look Up, Last Fair Deal, Ambition’s Debt, If You Could Say It in Words, Kinsey. Television: “Modern Love”, “Blue Bloods”, “Fosse/Verdon”, “The Blacklist”, “Mr. Robot”, “Trial by Jury.” Education: Alabama Shakespeare Festival/UA-MFA Classical Acting; Morehouse College; The Public Theater – Shakespeare Lab (directed by Barry Edelstein).
Kevis Hillocks (Chorus) is a Brooklyn, New York native. Off Broadway: X or Betty Shabazz v. the Nation (The Acting Company). Regional/touring: Julius Caesar (The Acting Company). International theatre: Ruined (Greek Festival ’16). Other New York and regional theatre: Pass Over (Luna Stage), Pirira (Luna Stage), College Colors (Crossroads Theatre), Morning Sun (Theatre 167), Thoughts of a Colored Man (Noisy Tenants), King Lear (The Public). TV: Blue Bloods. Film: Pebble Beach (Theeobc). Training: Ted Sluburski Studios- Scene Study, Acting Conservatory (BFA), SUNY Purchase College.
Patricia Randell (Nurse) recently played Nurse Ratched to rave reviews at Playhouse on Park Theatre in West Hartford, CT. Premiered Durang Durang at Manhattan Theatre Club and five One Act Play Marathons (including the premiere of Christopher Durang’s FOR WHOM THE SOUTHERN BELL TOLLS) at Ensemble Studio Theatre in NYC. Played Sheila Bair in HBO’s Too Big to Fail. NY theatre: Penguin Rep Theatre, Pan Asian, TACT, Peccadillo, New York Theatre Workshop, Queens Theatre In The Park, Abingdon Stage. Regional Theatre: Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Portland Center Stage at The Armory, Alabama Shakespeare Theatre, Geva Theatre Center, Inge Festival, Key West Theater (with Jesse Tyler Ferguson), John Drew, Centenary Stage and Studio Arena. Other film and tv: Islander, Approaching Union Square, My Day, “The Actress”, “L&O” and “Mysteries of Laura”, among others. Frequent guest artist at New River Dramatists, William Inge Center for the Arts and The Actors Studio Playwright/Director Lab. Member: Ensemble Studio Theatre.