"Well, I hated the idea of all men at first, which helped me, because I didn't want it to be campy," says the play's director, Joe Calarco. "I didn't want it to be funny. There were so many things I didn't want it to be. I wanted it to be a serious version of Romeo and Juliet."
At first, the students do "camp it up" when playing the women's roles, but the mood shifts when Juliet emerges. They begin taking their roles seriously.
In Shakespeare's day, the love between Romeo and Juliet was taboo, and the actors say this production brings back that sexual tension.
"I think that would probably be the hardest thing to get in any Romeo and Juliet production, is how forbidden everything that's happening actually is," says Caesar Samayoa, who plays Juliet.
"I love when people say to me after the show, 'You know,' they say, 'I didn't even see you up there as two men'," adds Greg Shamie, who plays Romeo. "It was, 'You were Romeo and Juliet,' and that transforms in their brains. That's exciting."
R and J has been playing almost a year now to sold-out houses. But if you can't get to New York to see it, take heart. The film rights have just been sold, and this all-male Romeo and Juliet could be on the big screen by next year.