JCC Uncommoners To Present Romeo And Juliet

From left, Kaden Weber, of Warren, Pa., as Romeo, and Morgan Tobio, of Hamden Conn., as Juliet, rehearse a scene together in Romeo and Juliet, to be performed by Jamestown Community College’s Uncommoners. Photo by Aaron Perez

Jamestown Community College’s Uncommoners will perform William Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet.

But in a reimagined way.

“The one hour performance of Romeo and Juliet will be presented in a very intimate setting with the limited audience members actually on the Scharmann Theatre stage in arena-style seating surrounding the actors so they can see the actors faces and hear their sighs,” said Producer Steven Gustafson.

According to the Folger Shakespeare Library, folger.edu, In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare creates a violent world, in which two young people fall in love. It is not simply that their families disapprove; the Montagues and the Capulets are engaged in a blood feud. In this death-filled setting, the movement from love at first sight to the lovers’ final union in death seems almost inevitable. And yet, this play set in an extraordinary world has become the quintessential story of young love. In part because of its exquisite language, it is easy to respond as if it were about all young lovers.

Gustafson, who was called out of three-year retirement, is the interim Scharmann Theater Manager and JCC Arts Programming Administrator and said it is happy to step back into the role.

“It’s a job I enjoyed doing for 15 years prior, so it was pretty easy to step back into the role and I love producing the plays and musicals for the college,” Gustafson said.

It’s his 36th theatrical production for JCC and it will be his first working with director Emily Drew. Gustafson said Emily Drew is the daughter of Dennis Drew, his friend and bandmate. Gustafson is the bassist and Dennis Drew is the keyboardist for Jamestown’s own 10,000 Maniacs.

“Obviously, I’ve known Emily her entire life and love her as if she were my own daughter and I’m delighted to get to work with her on Romeo and Juliet. Emily studied acting and directing at NYU (New York University) and has a great understanding of Shakespeare’s works. She’s terrific with the cast, ” Gustafson said.

Emily Drew completed her professional training at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and Shakespeare and Company, in the performance of Classical Texts. In 2015 she collaborated to found Madness Most Discreet, a theater company specializing in Original Practice Shakespeare. Emily and Madness Most Discreet have recently received a 2023 Support for Artists Grant through The New York State Council on the Arts in partnership with the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts, to produce and perform Original Practice Shakespeare in Jamestown. She hopes to expand the cultural footprint of this community and is honored and excited to bring her reimagining of Romeo and Juliet to the JCC Uncommoners.

“The majority of Americans are introduced to Shakespeare’s text in a classroom, reading his words like sheet music that they will never hear played, but poetry such as Romeo and Juliet is written to be observed in action. It is my wish, through the simplicity of our design, the proximity to the action, and the clarity of the text, that you might have an experience watching this performance much like Shakespeare intended,” Emily Drew said.

Here is the cast list along with each member’s character: Jonah Gantenbein, of Monroe, Wash., as Friar Lawrence; Ethan Tyger, of Lakewood, as Benvolio; Morgan Tobio, of Hamden Conn., as Juliet; Kaden Weber, of Warren, Pa., as Romeo; Karlie Blodein, of Jamestown, as Nurse; Zoe Struble, of Fort Worth, Texas, as Lord Montague/Lady Capulet; Colin Drayer , of Warren, Pa., as Mercutio/Friar John; Titus Miller, of Cassadaga, as Prince Escalus/ Tybalt; Trisha Patel, of Jamestown, Stage Manager, Beth Stang, of Gowanda, Run Crew; and Tamako Onoda, of Mie, Japan, Run Crew.

Performances are scheduled for Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.; March 30, March 31, and April 1 at 7:30 p.m.

The Robert Lee Scharmann Theatre is located in the Sheldon Center on JCC’s Jamestown Campus, where it also is used for cultural events and lectures.

For more information visit sunyjcc.edu/uncommoners or call (716) 338-1187.


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