Filled with grit, graffiti, hip hop and humor, the Cornell production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is a new take on the classic tale of revenge, love and tribalism. Romeo and Juliet opens on the Schwartz Center stage November 19 and runs through December 5.

Set in a contemporary, urban environment undergoing gentrification, the struggle between the Capulets and Montagues highlights current environmental tensions such as economic stability, unemployment, class strife and youth violence. "This play speaks especially to teenagers," says director Melanie Dreyer-Lude, "with its universal themes and issues for young people -- we can all recognize ourselves in these circumstances. This is a fresh, fast-paced take on a classic love story that is full of surprises."

The cast is comprised of Cornell students and professional actors. Students in the show include: Ian Harkins (Romeo), Bridget Saracino (Juliet), Alejandro Ruiz (Tybalt), Alex Viola (Benvolio), Tim Fasano (Paris), and Myles Rowland (Mercutio); Professional actors: Sonja Lanzener (nurse), Paul Hebron (Friar Laurence), Jeffrey Guyton (Lord Montague), and J.G. Hertzler (Lord Capulet).

Kent Goetz's set is a towering urban sprawl with walls tagged by graffiti artists from Ithaca High School, led by Jay Stooks of the Greater Ithaca Activities Center. Also designing for the show are: Warren Cross (sound), E.D. Intemann (lights), and Sarah E. Bernstein (costumes).

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