Welcome to Verona Beach, California! Here, in the summer of 1963, the Montagues and the Capulets battle for dominance over the sunny boardwalk, while their children make eyes at one another. It’s a tale as old as modern theater — Romeo & Juliet.
Oakland Tech’s Romeo & Juliet may be our most ambitious production yet, featuring three dramatic fights, a moving boardwalk set, tons of period-appropriate costumes, and an absolutely righteous dance party. Cast, crew, and costume have all been hard at work for the past month and a half putting together the best experience they possibly can.
A huge part of the play is the wide variety of costumes. The costume team has been putting together all kinds of early 60s outfits for the actors to try, and researching different fashion trends from the period. Most recently, the costume team put together an enormous slideshow with many different outfits for people to wear and characters that they are based on. I spoke with one of the lead costume designers, Sophiella DeFriez, who said, “I’m most excited to try ways to create a more feminine shape for certain characters and to experiment with early 60’s fashion!”
The play is set primarily on the fictitious Verona Beach boardwalk, as well as inside the Capulet home and the local church. The set designers have put together plans for a set that will showcase all of those locations while switching seamlessly between them. Evaline Flamer, a set and lighting designer, told me, “I am really excited to watch it come together. Something about your ideas coming to reality is just so amazing. I am really excited for the amount of detail we are putting in as well.” Exciting indeed — the boardwalk set includes a fun house, a gift shop, and several carnival games, among other things.
Juliet (Dannys Lumpkin) is a Capulet, the best house. She is accompanied throughout the play by her parents, Lord and Lady Capulet (Aviva Powers and Jordan Jerrels), and her nurse (me, Rafael Davis). The Capulets have been hard at work putting together a totally boss show, and our scenes run smoothly already. I spoke with Dannys, who told me “I’m really looking forward to the set and the costumes! And I’m enjoying the company of the other actors and how everyone is getting along.” And indeed, we do get along, much better than the Montagues.
Romeo (Carlos Hernandez) is a Montague, accompanied by his parents, Lord and Lady Montague (Joseph Keys and Bryah Gallagher), and Romeo’s homies, Benvolio and Mercutio (Simeon Tedros and Larkspur Vance). Things do not seem to be going well in the Montague house, and as Carlos lamented to me, “It’s an interesting experience being a part of a cast made up of Marxists, Anarchists, agitators, looters, along with of us in most instances having absolutely no clue what we’re doing.” Those poor Montagues. They really don’t seem to have any clue what they’re doing on stage. It’ll be a wonder if they’re ready for our opening night at all.
Romeo & Juliet opens November 15th, and runs through the 18th. In the words of Ms. Egan, the director, “Everyone should come see the play!”