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Hamptons Theater Review: Gladstone And Mueth Successfully Brought "Romeo And Juliet" Into The 21st Century

T.J. Clemente

I totally enjoyed the Romeo and Juliet production at Guild Hall. Attending on its closing weekend March 24-25 I was mesmerized. The words of William Shakespeare are never to be under estimated for their enduring power and relevance. His plays live on century after century. Shakespeare's plays have always been an avenue for new interpretation and creative genius. That being said, the Romeo and Juliet production at Guild Hall was a complete success because it hit so many markers. Was it Royal Shakespeare Company quality? Of course not, but what it was will be measured by the future of the so many East Hampton High School and Pierson High School students who while learning Shakespeare gave their energy to assist the fine acting professionals.

Here is where the patience and skills of two gifted seasoned performing artist of the East End comes into play. Josh Gladstone and Kate Mueth are no strangers to the world of the performing arts on the East End of Long Island. Their efforts, successes and productions, whether it is a show, play reading, or overall creative adventure, they have a long wonderful appreciated track record.

I feel it is important to first mention the students of EHHS and Pierson who participated; Frankie Bademci, Michael Clancy, Gaylin Davey, Jamar Jones, Lola Lama, Eden Lowlicht and Reilly Rose Schombs. I hope seeing their names in print will fuel bright futures not only in theater but also in their lives. Their energy was pure and raw and added to the production. Kudos to students Tiffany Farez-Cajamaraca, Madeline Kane and Sarbrina Ricci for their work backstage.

To critique the many reasons I enjoyed this 3-hour plus production starts with the fact that there were no cuts to the actual volume of lines Shakespeare composed for Romeo and Juliet. Too often modern productions are concerned about length of production, whether because of attention span or union costs, to keep the show running for over three hours. Josh Gladstone offered up the script in its whole.

Kate Mueth, Mr. Gladstone's wife, added her modern choreography expertise to add some 21st century energy to a late (1597) 16th century play. I enjoyed the contrast and juxtaposition of the drama with the movement of the young cast members along with the seasoned actors.

It must be mentioned that Olivia De Salvo was triumphant as Juliet. Her sweet, delicate but deliberate portrayal of a young 14-year-old Juliet was the best energy. As was Alex Might as Romeo, the chemistry between the two was just the perfect amount of spark and genuineness that lifted me all throughout the production. Both Josh Gladstone (Capulet) and Kate Mueth (Nurse) also exhibited their immensely gifted and well-polished acting skills. Josh was forced into acting the role of Capulet when Robert Anthony was injured and could not continue a few weeks before the first curtain went up.

The sword fighting choreography of Dan Renkin must be applauded. The Projection Design of Joe Brondo that turned the walls of Guild Hall into a surreal psychedelic experience added a visual I have never experienced in any play or musical.

I enjoyed Minerva Perez's as Lady Capulet. Charlie Westfal stole many scenes as Mercutio with his frenetic acting skills and swashbuckling.

The directing of Josh Gladstone and Assistant Director, Susan Stout well-handled the obvious Herculean task of putting this show together. I am only guessing it took their collective iron wills to mesh all the creative ideas with the words of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. But to the seasoned Guild Hall audience that is what they have come to expect from Mr. Gladstone. He never mails it in. He always gives his all to his work. The theater has been his life and we on the East End are fortunate every year to get to go over to Guild Hall, purchase a ticket and enjoy his creativity, love and genius. Congratulations I enjoyed the effort and stood while I applauded.

Guild Hall will hold auditions for The Summit, an upcoming production, in Brooklyn on Saturday, April 7 and East Hampton on Sunday, April 8.

Guild Hall is located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton. For more information, visit www.guildhall.org.

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