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Review Roundup: ROMEO AND JULIET Opens on Broadway - All the Reviews!

Review Roundup: ROMEO AND JULIET Opens on Broadway - All the Reviews!

The new Broadway production of Shakespeare's timeless love story Romeo and Juliet starring international film star Orlando Bloom, making his Broadway debut opposite two-time Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad, officially opens tonight, Thursday, September 19, 2013 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.

While Romeo and Juliet is the most famous love story of all time, this production - directed by five-time Tony Award nominee David Leveaux - marks the first time in 36 years that the play has been produced for Broadway. This version of the classic tale retains Shakespeare's original language but has a modern setting in which members of the Montague family are white, and the Capulet family are black.

The creative team includes scenic designer Jesse Poleshuck, costume designer Fabio Toblini, lighting designer David Weiner, sound designer David Van Tieghem, and hair designer David BrIan Brown.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld: Regrettably, it's the stage-long row of flames that rises from the floor and makes the occasional dramatic cameo that provides any kind of heat in director David Leveaux's soggy production of Romeo and Juliet. Despite the presence of some fine actors who manage to light some sparks here and there, this gimmicky rendering of Shakespeare's tale of adolescent lust gone tragic is curiously lacking in tension, passion, romance and, for some cast members, clear diction.

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: Mr. Bloom, in a first-rate Broadway debut, and the gifted Ms. Rashad exude a too-fine-for-this-world purity that makes their characters' love feel sacred...Yet, while the production features stunning columns of flame as part of its eclectic mise-en-scène, it never acquires the fiery, all-consuming urgency that "Romeo and Juliet" should deliver...Good as she is in the early scenes, Ms. Rashad doesn't yet have the vocal heft and variety to take Juliet into the echoing halls of tragedy...On the other hand, Mr. Bloom, famous for being handsomely heroic in the "Lord of the Rings" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchises, keeps surprising. For once, we have a Romeo who evolves substantively, from a posturing youth in love with love to a man who discovers the startling revelation of real love, with a last-act descent into bilious, bitter anger that verges on madness.

Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: Credit David Leveaux with trying to make Shakespeare cool, even if this uneven production sometimes misses the mark by falling in love with its visual effects...Bloom and his Juliet, the rising star Condola Rashad, sometime seem out of synch emotionally, but both give it their all, the stage veteran Rashad emerging better than her opposite, a relative theatrical novice...Bloom, a matinee idol, too often appears like a squinty, aging boy band member, while Rashad embraces a coltish, youthful impulsiveness. They are terrific when they kiss, and they do so with a frequency perfectly in synch by their characters' savage love. But when they're apart, the weight of these roles seems to push them down.

Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal: Would that Mr. Bloom's big entrance led to something interesting, but this "R & J" is a slick, weightless assemblage of modern-dress trickery (Romeo wears a hoodie and jeans) whose conception is as stale as its been-there-seen-that décor and TV-movie music. From the low-impact knife fight to the brutally abridged tomb scene (what happened to Paris?), it proceeds systematically along its overfamiliar way, never missing a chance to be obvious. When the star-crossed lovers paw one another lasciviously at their first meeting, you can almost hear Mr. Leveaux assuring himself, "That ought to thrill the kiddies."

Marilyn Stasio, Variety: The kids are all right. That's the takeaway from "Romeo and Juliet," with movie heartthrob Orlando Bloom and ingenue stunner Condola Rashad as Shakespeare's star-cross'd lovers. The interracial casting of the feuding Montague and Capulet clans sounds bold, but has surprisingly little dramatic impact. The tragedy also survives its gimmicky update to modern-ish times. Bottom line: This enduring love story stands or falls on the appeal of its lovers, and the young stars bring a sweet passion - if no ear whatsoever for romantic poetry - to their immortal roles.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: The poster shot of Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad for Romeo and Juliet, clad in purest white and lost in each other's eyes on a bed of snowy linens, could be a perfume commercial. Let's call it William Shakespeare's Obsession. But the dreamy intoxication that such a heady fragrance might transmit is largely missing from David Leveaux's snoozy modern-dress production, along with poetry and heat. Bloom is the big name on the marquee and he makes a confident Broadway debut, roaring onto the stage on a motorcycle no less. But such contemporary trappings never quite amount to a distinctive edge.

Elysa Gardner, USA TODAY: Bloom is without question a graceful stage performer, and still looks pretty youthful at 36. But the gap between his suave Romeo and Rashad's breathless, girlish Juliet is glaring. They bring to mind less a couple of kids defying a harsh world than a really nice rock star and his groupie. Incidentally, in this staging, the Montagues are white and the Capulets black. Leveaux doesn't overtly make race a factor in the family feud, but there are subtle nods -- as subtle as anything here, anyway -- to cultural differences...for all its style and bluster [Romeo and Juliet] fails to produce a compelling connection between its stars or with the audience.

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