A crisp air welcomed those who entered the Gerald Lynch Theater. The attendees tapped their feet as they were serenaded by lively jazz music.
With each tap to the melody, the number of patrons in the theater grew, the murmur surged, and the anticipation in the air thickened.
Hey mambo, mambo Italiano. Hey mambo, mambo Italiano.
The show has begun.
Written by Arthur Miller, “A View from the Bridge” was produced by John Jay’s Communication & Theater Arts Department and directed by Lorraine Moller. Her skillful direction included casting, coaching actors, picking sets, costumes, and soundtracks.
The play’s cast and production team was comprised entirely of John Jay students and faculty, making it gratifying since the actors are people that walk our very own hallways.
Emiljano Oparaku, a John Jay sophomore, attended the show’s opening night. “The familiarity definitely added dimension,” he said.
The play began production in late August. It ran for six shows, launching on November 15th until November 19th.
Set in 1950s Red Hook, Brooklyn, the classical play is about Eddie Carbone’s incestuous love for his niece, Catherine, resulting in a catastrophic series of events.
Karina Verna is a sophomore student who was featured as the female lead. “The role of immigration and the power of law in the play are reflective of today. It was important that people saw that,” she said.
The stage was arranged with multiple settings to match the changing scenes throughout the play. Firstly, fishing nets hung in front of a white backdrop to represent the docks of the Brooklyn Bridge.
On stage left there was a set of stairs and a barrel acting as the entrance for an apartment. Center stage was another set of stairs leading inside.
Then, there was a rocker chair, dining area, living room, and a portable phonograph. Upstage right had a set of stairs leading to a desk representing a lawyer’s office.
The play opened with a ruckus scene of Red Hook’s streets. Dressed in authentic 1950s era clothing, the locals were occupied with individual scenarios; two young siblings fight over a scooter, a couple strode across the stage, and two longshoremen were conversing amongst themselves.
Then, a looming figure emerged from the darkness of the set and took long, smooth steps downstage, unfazed by the tumult surrounding him. With the last step he took to land himself front and center, the commotion halted as if that one step froze time.
The figure was Alfieri, an Italian-American lawyer who doubled as the play’s narrator. Played by John Jay Professor Greg Donaldson, Alfieri came to Red Hook when he was twenty five years old.
Towering six foot three in a satin dark blue suit, he talked with the audience instead of at them. He broke the fourth wall by making eye contact with audience members, drawing them into his dimension.
After his monologue, he receded into the darkness in which he was born. In comes the protagonist, Eddie Carbone.
Eddie is played by retired Corrections Officer Alan Parker. Eddie is a stockily built longshoreman who raised his niece, Catherine, from a young age. His subtle mannerisms during the interaction between the two foreshadow his love for her that exceeds the boundaries of love between relatives.
Beatrice, Eddie’s wife, has two cousins, siblings Marco and Rodolpho, that had illegally immigrated from Italy. Marco and Rodolpho stay in the Carbone household while they save money made from working as longshoremen.
Upon meeting Rodolpho, Catherine was immediately swept off her feet. Standing five feet two inches, wearing a gray pencil skirt and black kitten heels, Catherine laid a hand on her heart as if Cupid struck an arrow right through her chest as her eyes met Rodolpho’s.
He was wearing an orange jacket, green corduroy pants, and a black bowler hat that his sun-kissed curly hair peeks out through.
Their unquestionable chemistry infuriated Eddie. Alfieri knew the true reason behind Eddie’s anger; jealousy, as Alfieri noted, “A passion moved into his body like a stranger.”
When in a drunken fit, Eddie kisses Catherine. Gasps from the audience reverberated throughout the theater. Enraged by what he just witnessed, Rodolpho grabbed Eddie when Eddie grabbed him back and kissed him too.
As his coup de grâce, Eddie called the Immigration Bureau to report the Italian brothers. Jaws dropped as the air thickened with tension and anticipation.
Immigration officers delivered a concrete knock on the Carbone household looking for Marco and Rodolpho. Marco shouted as he resisted the firm grip of the officers, a stunned Rodolpho pleaded with them to let him go, and a bawling Catherine hung onto Rodolpho like a leech.
“I really felt the emotion in that scene. I was actually angry,” said Christoper Silva, a senior year student who acted in the role of Marco. Silva’s effective method acting was felt in every audience member.
Outside, onlookers accumulated as Eddie and Marco stood across from each other, locking eyes like two lions prepared for a battle. Catherine and Beatrice tried to hold Eddie back and prevent him from charging at Marco.
Both men broke free from being held back and lunged at each other. Eddie pulled out a knife and brought it down on Marco. Marco grabbed Eddie’s arms and turned the blade inward, stabbing Eddie in the heart.
The turmoil transfixed the audience. A few seconds after reality settled in, they roared and cheered. The riveting performance left them craving for more of the talent that filled each scene.
Moller’s direction connected the audience to every character, making “A View from the Bridge” feel like more than just a play.
“I’ve been at John Jay since 2002 and have participated in eleven plays. This was the most talented cast I have ever seen. I am proud to have worked with Moller” said Professor Donaldson.
Angel Ortiz, a sophomore featured in the play as Rodolpho, is a member of JME Entertainment Productions.
With a profound sense of honor, Ortiz stated “I am happy it happened. Now it’s time to close this book and open the next one.”
The expectations of a college level performance were indisputably exceeded thanks to Miller’s writing and Moller’s direction.
The unfolding events of a forbidden love versus a young love had the audience on the edge of their seats. In truth, the successful “A View from the Bridge” left viewers salivating for the next home production.