Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad Lead ROMEO AND JULIET, Opening Tonight at the Richard Rodgers Theatre
International film star Orlando Bloom makes his Broadway debut alongside Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad, as Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers in a new Broadway production of the timeless love story Romeo and Juliet, directed by five-time Tony Award nominee David Leveaux. The show opens on Broadway tonight, September 19, 2013 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. The production also stars two-time Tony Award nominee Jayne Houdyshell as the Nurse and Tony Award nominee Joe Morton as Lord Capulet.
While Romeo and Juliet is the most famous love story of all time, this production will mark the first time in 36 years that the play will be produced for Broadway. This version of the classic tale will retain Shakespeare's original language but have a modern setting in which members of the contentious Montague and Capulet families will be of differing ethnicities.
One of Shakespeare's best known and most beloved plays, Romeo and Juliet belongs to a tradition of tragic-romances dating back over 500 years. The famous youthful lovers first appeared in Italian novella in the 1500's and gained popularity in England after being adapted and translated into English by Arthur Brooke in 1562. As described in Brooke's poem, "The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet" - on which Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" is based - while the Montagues and Capulets are from different "races" or "stocks" their deadly feud is not based on their race, but rather on the "grudging envy" of men of "equal state." In this new production, the members of the Montague household will be white, and the blood relatives of the Capulet family will be black. While race defines the family lineages, the original cause of the 'ancient quarrel', passed down by successive generations to their young, has been lost to time. Shakespeare's dramatization of the original poem sets the two young lovers in a context of prejudice, authoritarian parents, and a never ending cycle of 'revenge.' Against this background, the strength of their love changes the world.
"Shakespeare did not only write of his world - he imagined ours," said Leveaux. "The very improbability that two young people might, through their imaginations and their courage, change the world by overcoming the cynical tyranny of division handed down to them by their elders, is the best and happily most improbable reason I can imagine to bring this story to the Broadway stage today."
The last time Romeo and Juliet was produced on Broadway was the 1977 Circle in the Square production featuring Paul Ryan Rudd and Pamela Payton-Wright. Other notable New York productions include: The Public Theater's 2012 gala staged-reading at the Delacorte Theater starring Kevin Kline and Meryl Streep; the Royal Shakespeare Company's 2011 production at the Park Avenue Armory starring Sam Troughton and Mariah Gale; The Public Theater's 2007 Shakespeare in the Park production starring Oscar Isaac and Lauren Ambrose; the 1986 Shakespeare on Broadway for the Schools repertory production starring Geoffrey Owens and ReGina Taylor; The Old Vic Company's 1956 production at the Winter Garden Theater starring John Neville and Claire Bloom; as well as the 1940 Broadway production starring Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh.