I have been a member of the Cornell Club for over a decade and enjoy all the special programs that the Club sponsors. There are so many interesting Alumni to meet along the way and many of them go out of their way to socialize and engage with other Alumni.
Having finally put my major Marketing project with my class behind me and having given the Final Exam the night before, I was able to join other Club members for an evening out to see “Romeo & Bernadette” that was to be followed by a Q & A with the author of the Book and Lyrics, Mark Saltzman.
Romeo & Bernadette at Theater 555 in Manhattan
The production like most on Broadway was in previews right before COVID hit and was just about ready to open when New York City closed on March 13th, 2020. This shut down everything in New York City. We went to see the production as it had reopened again and the week before the reviewers came out to see it.
It was a cute little production Off-Broadway that told the story of Romeo who was wooing his beloved Juliet, and both were drinking sleeping potions and then poison. Somehow Romeo got these mixed up and woke up in modern times. It kept in character of that time in modern Bensonhurst (I must have dozed off for a minute because it took some time to get the connection).
Talking about the Production
The Penza family travels to Verona with Bernadette traveling with her parents, Sal and Camille (Camille’s family is originally from Verona). Romeo sees Bernadette and mistakes her for Juliet and then the rest of the story moves to Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. With a lot of twists and turns, Romeo charms Bernadette and love conquers all.
The only problem I had with the production is that I am getting tired of stereotypes people have of Italians in New York City. With everything going on in the world right now I thought they could have modernized the story a bit more. Still, I keep a good personally and enjoyed the show. The cast could really sing, and it was a very upbeat production.
The funny part was that because we got to pick our seats and I ordered the tickets immediately when the program came up, I picked a seat in the front so that I would have leg room. I ended up sitting next to the brother-in-law of the actress who played Bernadette, Anna Kostakis.
He spent the rest of the production when we had a free moment talking about her career starting with high school productions right up to making candy and working in the family restaurant in Rochester, NY. He then told me the family history of the restaurant. It was interesting how actors kept busy during the lockdown. I had to ask what his opinion was of the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. I was only kidding but he was serious of his thoughts of the film.
Still, it was nice to see how proud he and the rest of her family were of her to make it to Broadway. She had gone from starring in her high school plays to make it all the way to an Off-Broadway production is quite an accomplishment.
The audience reaction to the show before its release
I really enjoyed the performance, and it is a fun show to go see. All the actors can really belt a tune and the songs really played on the neighborhood situations that bring the story of Romeo and Juliet into modern times with a good twist to it.
After the show was over, I said goodbye to my seatmate and waited with other club members to talk with Mark Saltzman. Because of the COVID restrictions and wearing masks in the theater, we had to keep the Q & A short. We asked where the inspiration came from and how he built on the story. Many of the members asked about his experiences up in Ithaca and that is when the answers got fun. Everyone always likes to look back. It was a consensus amongst the Alumni that we enjoyed the show and we wished him luck in bringing it to Broadway.
Author and Cornell Alumnus Mark Saltzman
After the show was over, the heavens opened up outside the theater and the rain that was predicted arrived in Manhattan. People left the theater with umbrellas out and sloshed along the streets. Everyone started to make their way down West 42nd Street very quickly.
I just had to walk back in the slushy rainstorm that would not let up until Sunday afternoon. I wanted to get to bed as soon I as I got home. The next morning, I had to be on the first bus into Manhattan to start “The Great Saunter Walk”, the 32-mile perimeter walk of Manhattan.
Read my blog on “The Great Saunter Walk” the next morning:
Day Two Hundred and Thirty-Six: Completing the Official “Great Saunter Walk” May 7th, 2022:
I was hungry but not starved so I stopped at my favorite ‘Dollar Slice’ place, 2 Brothers Pizza at 542 9th Avenue right behind the Port Authority for a quick snack. This has always been my ‘go-to’ place for a quick bite since they opened up about fifteen years ago and their pizza is consistently good.
I am always amazed by the characters that eat at this place late at night. That’s the neighborhood for you. It makes it more interesting when you are all dressed up and eating there. I can only imagine what the other customers thought of me.
I just wanted to get back on the bus and get ready for the next day’s walk.
Things to Do:
Romeo & Bernadette
555 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
Places to Eat:
2 Brothers Pizza
542 9th Avenue
Between 39th & 40th Street
New York City, NY 10018
My review on TripAdvisor:
My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com: