For Immediate Release
Contact: David Henderson, 860-520-7250

“A plague on both your houses!”

—Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare

Hartford Stage Presents Shakespeare’s Most Popular Play, Romeo & Juliet
Directed by Darko Tresnjak

Kaliswa Brewster and Chris Ghaffari
Lead a Distinguished Cast

Kaliswa Brewster

Chris Chaffari

HARTFORD, CT — January 19, 2016 — Hartford Stage presents William Shakespeare’s most popular play, Romeo & Juliet, directed by Hartford Stage Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak, who previously helmed the critically acclaimed productions of Hamlet, Macbeth, Twelfth Night and The Tempest here. The tragic romance will play from February 11 through March 20 only.

In Romeo and Juliet, the intense feud between the Montague and Capulet families devastates the city of Verona and foreshadows tragic consequences for young Romeo and Juliet. Revenge, passion and a secret marriage lead the world’s most famous star-crossed lovers to a harrowing end.

Kaliswa Brewster and Chris Ghaffari will play the archetypal young lovers.  Brewster’s credits include Hartford Stage’s La Dispute and Macbeth and Williamstown Theatre Festival’s Under Milk Wood, all three directed by Tresnjak; the new Showtime series “Billions,” which stars Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti and debuts next month; and the Off-Broadway premieres of Emotional Creature and Soldier X. Ghaffari is in his final year of the MFA program at the Yale School of Drama, where he has performed in Coriolanus, King John and Paradise Lost. His resume also includes King Lear for The Public’s Shakespeare in the Park and As You Like It and Julius Caesar at Shakespeare on the Sound.

Tresnjak said, “Romeo & Juliet is a play of seemingly infinite possibilities, reinvented from generation to generation for over 400 years, a symbol of romantic love infused with iconic imagery and unforgettable language that has become a part of the vernacular. We look forward to exploring this eternally modern play with a company of great stage veterans and rising stars.”

Written in the 1590s, Romeo & Juliet contains some of Shakespeare’s most quotable lines:

  • “A plague on both your houses!”
  • “Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow,
    That I shall say good night till it be morrow.”
  • “What's in a name? that which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet.”

In 2014 Tresnjak earned the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for Best Direction of a Musical for the Broadway production of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which he debuted at Hartford Stage in 2012. Last year he won the OBIE Award for directing The Killer at Theatre for a New Audience. He most recently directed the sold-out, world premiere of Rear Window at Hartford Stage, and in May he will direct the world premiere of the new musical Anastasia.

In addition to Brewster and Ghaffari, the cast includes Kandis Chappell (Hedda Gabler at Hartford Stage, Getting Away with Murder and Rumors on Broadway) as the Nurse; Bill Christ (An Opening in Time at Hartford Stage, Born Yesterday on Broadway) as Prince Escalus; Celeste Ciulla (A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Hartford Stage and Hartford Symphony, Hamlet at The Old Globe) as Lady Capulet; Robert Hannon Davis (Kiss Me, Kate and A Christmas Carol—A Ghost Story of Christmas at Hartford Stage) as Montague; Jonathan Louis Dent (Sons of the Prophet at Roundabout Theatre, Henry IV Parts 1 & 2 at Huntington Theatre Company) as Tybalt; Wyatt Fenner (Misalliance at South Coast Repertory and LA premiere of Dog Sees God) as Mercutio; Alex Hanna (The Flick at Playwrights Horizons, Fox on the Fairway at Flat Rock Playhouse) as Benvolio; Charles Janasz (Amadeus on Broadway, more than 30 Shakespeare productions at The Old Globe and The Guthrie Theater) as Friar Laurence; Raphael Massie (longtime member of Elm Shakespeare Company) as Peter; Alex Schneps (The Hen Night at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) as Sampson; Julien Seredowych (The Dwarfs and Richard III at NYU Tisch School of the Arts) as Paris; Timothy D. Stickney (King Lear at The Public Theatre, Romeo and Juliet for The Public’s Shakespeare in the Park) as Capulet; Callie Beaulieu (King Lear at ARTFARM) as Lady Montague; Stephen Mir (Hamlet at Hartford Stage) as Balthasar.

Ensemble members will be Michael Buckhout (A Christmas Carol—A Ghost Story of Christmas at Hartford Stage), Olivia Hoffman (Angels in America at Playhouse on Park), Ella Mora (A Christmas Carol—A Ghost Story of Christmas at Hartford Stage); Stephen James Potter (Festival of New Musicals at Goodspeed Musicals), Jenna Rapisarda (Memphis at Ivoryton Playhouse); Mac Schonher (Collidescope at the University of Maryland); and Nicole Vazquez (A Christmas Carol—A Ghost Story of Christmas at Hartford Stage).

Tresnjak will design the set as he did for Hamlet and Macbeth. The creative team also includes Ilona Somogyi (The Crucible and An Opening in Time at Hartford Stage) as Costume Designer; Matthew Richards (Hamlet and Reverberation at Hartford Stage) as Lighting Designer; and Jane Shaw (Rear Window and Hamlet at Hartford Stage) as Sound Designer. Also, Elizabeth Williamson, Associate Artistic Director of Hartford Stage and Dramaturg for An Opening in Time and The Body of an American, will serve as Dramaturg; Steve Rankin (Rear Window at Hartford Stage, Henry IV at Lincoln Center Theatre) as Fight Director; and Claudia Hill-Sparks (Hamlet and Twelfth Night at Hartford Stage) as Voice and Text Coach.

Stage Manager Robyn Zalewski and Assistant Stage Manager Brae Singleton, the team behind Hartford Stage’s Hamlet, will return for Romeo & Juliet.


The Presenting Sponsor for Romeo & Juliet will be The Hartford. Assisting Production Sponsors are Federman, Lally & Remis LLC and Hinckley Allen. Hartford Stage’s production is part of Shakespeare in American Communities, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

The 2015-16 Season is also sponsored by the Greater Hartford Arts Council and the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.

Special Dates Previews begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, February 11

Opening/Press Night: 8 p.m. Friday, February 19

Closes: 2 p.m. Sunday, March 20

Season Subscriptions

Subscriptions begin at $120 for four plays and $99 for three plays. The season continues with The Body of an American by Dan O’Brien, directed by Jo Bonney, opening in two weeks; Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare, directed by Tresnjak; Having Our Say: The Delaney Sisters’ First 100 Years by Emily Mann, adapted from the book by Sarah L. Delaney and A. Elizabeth Delaney with Amy Hill Hearth; and Anastasia, A New Musical, book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahern, inspired by the Twentieth Century Fox Motion Pictures, directed by Tresnjak.

Tickets & Performances

Tue, Wed, Thu, Sun at 7:30 p.m.—Fri, Sat at 8 p.m.—Sat, Sun at 2 p.m.

Wed matinee at 2 p.m. on February 24 only

Weekly schedules vary. For details, visit 

Tickets for all shows start at $25. For group discounts (10 or more), contact Theresa MacNaughton at 860-520-7114.

For all other tickets, please call the Hartford Stage box office at 860-527-5151 or visit

Follow Hartford Stage at:

Special Events

LGBT Night Out, Thursday, February 18

Join us for a pre-show nosh and complimentary wine (plus drink specials at the bar) for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patrons. Event begins at 6:15 p.m. before the 7:30 p.m. curtain. The reception is free with purchase of a ticket for that evening’s performance. The special guest partner for the evening will be True Colors.

Sunday Afternoon Discussion, February 21
Enjoy a lecture from artists and scholars connected with the production immediately following the 2 p.m. matinee. FREE

AfterWords Discussion
Tuesdays, February 23 & March 1 and Wednesday, February 24
Join members of the cast and our Artistic staff for a free discussion, immediately following select 7:30 p.m. performances on Tuesday or the 2 p.m. Wednesday matinee. FREE

Open Captioned Performances, February 28, 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. performances
For patrons who are deaf or have hearing loss. FREE

Audio Described Performance, March 5, 2:00pm
For patrons who are blind or have low vision. FREE


Now in our 52nd year, Hartford Stage is under the leadership of Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak and Managing Director Michael Stotts. One of the nation’s leading resident theatres, Hartford Stage is known for producing innovative revivals of classics and provocative new plays and musicals, including 70 world and American premieres, as well as offering a distinguished education program, which reaches more than 20,000 students annually.

Since Tresnjak’s appointment in 2011 the theatre has presented the world premieres of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder on Broadway, winner of four 2014 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical by Tresnjak; Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Water by the Spoonful, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama; Breath & Imagination by Daniel Beaty; Big Dance Theatre’s Man in a Case with Mikhail Baryshnikov; and Reverberation by Matthew Lopez.

Hartford Stage has earned many of the nation’s most prestigious awards, including the 1988 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Other national honors include Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, OBIE, and New York Critics Circle awards. Hartford Stage has produced nationally renowned titles, including the New York transfers of Enchanted April; The Orphans' Home Cycle; Resurrection (later retitled Through the Night); The Carpetbagger's Children; and Tea at Five.

# # #