CCRI Players’ “Romeo and Juliet”

Apparently, a rose by any other name really would smell as sweet … metaphorically speaking. In this case, the rose was not Juliet, but rather, her Romeo, who happened to be portrayed by an actress named Victoria.

Directed by Ted Clement, the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) Players’ take on Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet ditched the play’s original setting (1300s Verona, Italy) in favor of fair Verona, 1935, with aesthetics that were largely inspired by 1930s gangland Chicago.

This production, which was held at the lovely Bobby Hackett Theater on the college’s Warwick campus, definitely warranted the full-house audience that it attracted for its final show. Romeo and Juliet was full of strong performances. It was an impassioned and slightly musical take on a play that many theatergoers know so well.

Star-crossed teenage lovers Romeo and Juliet were both played by Victorias: Victoria Ezikovich and Victoria Jessop, respectively. Both were fabulous. Ezikovich, a theater performance student and VP of the Players, did an awesome job of capturing the walk and talk of the ever-so-male Romeo. Jessop, a music student studying classical voice at CCRI, was wonderful as well. At one point, she delivered a delightful rendition of “Midnight Sun,” (backed by a live swing band), a jazz tune made popular by Ella Fitzgerald. The music, song and dance (there was a little of that, too), helped to defuse some of the tension that this tragedy emotes.

Honorable mentions are in order for the outstanding actors and actress who portrayed Mercutio (Chelsea Titchenell), Capulet (Clarence Bernard Donath) and Friar Laurence (Trey Hendley).

Overall, the Players did a fantastic job of depicting the time period/vibe with great costumes (thanks to Marilyn Salvatore), hair and makeup (by Tabi Baez), the band (directed by John McKenna), the dance choreography (at the Capulet ball in Act I) and set design (handled by Luke J. Sutherland).

Other highlights of this CCRI Players production were its use of weaponry and smoothly executed fight scene direction. Weapons master Joseph Verdi was responsible for managing the weapons (swords, daggers and machine guns, oh my!). James Beauregard directed and choreographed the fights.

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