‘R&J’ bigscreen bound

Clein, Pollard to produce film version of off-broadway hit

NEW YORK — Praisery owner Harry Clein and producer Sam Pollard will produce a screen version of Joe Calarco’s Off Broadway hit “R&J.”

Calarco, who adapted and directed the play based on William Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet,” will write and direct the bigscreen “R&J.”

Calarco’s adaptation of “Romeo & Juliet” uses an all-male cast, as was the custom in Shakespeare’s time. It is set in a repressive boys’ prep school, where several students perform the tale in a clandestine act of rebellion.

Clein heads Clein + White, the bicoastal marketing and public relations firm that handles campaigns for independent and studio films.

Pollard was formerly director of development for “Forrest Gump” producer Wendy Finerman. He also was director of development for Hart West Prods., where he focused on developing remakes of “Playhouse 90” and “Producer’s Showcase” programs.

For the past two years, Calarco has been resident director and playwright at Expanded Arts on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where “R&J” was originally developed.

The play opened in January at the John Houseman Studio Theatre and recently won the Lucille Lortel Award for Special Achievement.

“When I first saw the play last February, I realized it was the most passionate and understandable Shakespeare I’d ever come across,” said Clein. “This was not only a great theatrical experience, but one that could make a very viable film.”

Calarco’s staging of “R&J” at the Young Vic was scheduled for this summer, but has been pushed back to next spring to allow a projected early fall start of filming.

Negotiations on behalf of Calarco were handled by Nicole Graham of Writers and Artists in New York.