Romeo and Juliet: Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad to star
Film star Orlando Bloom will make his Broadway debut alongside Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad, as Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers in a new Broadway production of Romeo and Juliet, directed by five-time Tony Award nominee David Leveaux.
The production will also star two-time Tony Award nominee Jayne Houdyshell as the 'Nurse' and Tony Award nominee Joe Morton as 'Lord Capulet.' Further casting and additional creative team members will be announced at a later date.
Romeo and Juliet will open at Broadway's Richard Rodgers Theatre on 19 Sep 2013, following previews from 24 Aug, and play a limited engagement through to 12 Jan 2014.
This production will mark the first time in 36 years that Romeo and Juliet 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 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.
Director David Leveaux said
Shakespeare did not only write of his world - he imagined ours. 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.
Orlando Bloom (Romeo) had his breakthrough roles in 2001 as the elf-prince "Legolas" in "The Lord of the Rings" and in 2003 as blacksmith "Will Turner" in the Pirates of "The Caribbean film series." He subsequently established himself as a leading man in Hollywood films, including Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown and Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven. Bloom made his professional stage debut in the West End's 'In Celebration' at the Duke of York's Theatre in 2007.
Condola Rashad (Juliet) received a 2012 Tony nomination for her performance in 'Stick Fly,' produced by Alicia Keys and Nelle Nugent and directed by Kenny Leon. Condola currently stars on Broadway in The Trip to Bountiful with Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams and Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Jayne Houdyshell (Nurse) was most recently seen on Broadway in Theresa Rebeck's 'Dead Accounts.' Houdyshell is a two time Tony Nominee earning her first in Lisa Kron’s play 'Well,' and her second for delivering the Sondheim showstopper “Broadway Baby” in 'Follies.' Other Broadway credits include 'Wicked,' 'Bye Bye Birdie' and 'The Importance of Being Earnest.'
Joe Morton (Lord Capulet) was nominated for a Best Actor Tony Award for his performance as 'Walter Lee Younger' in the musical 'Raisin,' and has also starred on Broadway in 'Art,' 'Honky Tonk Nights,' Oh, Brother!,' 'Tricks' and 'Two Gentlemen of Verona' (as Valentine). Morton portrayed 'Colin Powell' in David Hare's, 'Stuff Happens' at The National Theatre in London. He directed the original American Touring Company of 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and recently, 'Robert Johnson at 100' at the Apollo Theatre in addition to several off-Broadway productions. He has appeared in over 70 movies, including John Sayles' "Brother From Another Planet" and "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," and played several leading men and made many TV guest appearances, including "Dr. Steven Hamilton" in "Smallville," "Daniel Golden" in "The Good Wife" and defense attorney "Leon Chiles" on "Law & Order." He is currently portraying a recurring character (Rowan) on ABC's "Scandal."
David Leveaux has been nominated for Tony Award nominations for Best Director for 'Jumpers,' 'Nine,' 'The Real Thing,' 'Anna Christie' and 'A Moon for the Misbegotten.' Other Broadway credits include: 'Arcadia,' 'Cyrano de Bergerac,' 'The Glass Menagerie,' 'Fiddler on the Roof,' 'Betrayal' and 'Electra.' London theater includes: the upcoming revival of Peter Nichols' 'Passion Play' with Zoe Wanamaker, also 'Backbeat,' 'Arcadia,' 'The Late Middle Classes,' 'Sinatra Live at the London Palladium,' 'Electra,' 'The Father,' 'No Man's Land,' 'Moonlight,' 'Betrayal,' 'The Distance From Here,' 'Tis Pity She's a Whore' and 'A Moon for the Misbegotten.'