Bloom, Rashad in Broadway's 'Romeo and Juliet'
FILE - In this Feb. 24, 2013 file photo, actor Orlando Bloom arrives at the 2013 Vanity Fair Oscars Viewing and After Party at the Sunset Plaza Hotel in West Hollywood, Calif. Bloom and Condola Rashad will star in a modern take on William Shakespeare's “Romeo and Juliet” on Broadway this fall. Producers said Monday, April 1, 2013, that previews at the Richard Rodgers Theatre begin Aug. 24, with an opening night set for Sept. 19. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) — Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad will star on Broadway this fall in a modern take on William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," a revival that will add an intriguing element of racial contrast to the classic tale of two star-crossed lovers.
"The last thing we wanted to do was to do a sort of pompous, classic version of 'Romeo and Juliet,'" said director David Leveaux, a five-time Tony Award nominee. "I'm just taking away all the wallpaper and mantelpieces, all the kind of pompous stuff we associate with grand Shakespeare productions, and try to go as simple as possible."
Producers said Monday that previews at the Richard Rodgers Theatre will begin Aug. 24 with an opening night set for Sept. 19. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on April 8.
The production will also star two-time Tony Award nominee Jayne Houdyshell as the Nurse and Tony nominee Joe Morton as Lord Capulet. The Capulets will be played by black actors and the Montagues by white actors.
Leveaux stressed that the idea of exploring the racial difference between the two feuding Italian families came organically after the casting of the lead actor and actress.
"I did not set out to create some conceptual frame," he said. "At the end of the day, if you're sitting in Row E in a Broadway theater, you either believe that these two people are in love and are invested in them or the play doesn't work."
Leveaux said Bloom came aboard first several years ago, thirsty to try his hand at the work despite the director saying there were easier ways to make his Broadway debut. Years ago, Bloom had wanted to join the Royal Shakespeare Company but was persuaded to film "The Lord of the Rings" instead.
"I was just so fascinated by his passion and his absolute boyish love of this language that I thought, 'Yep, that feels like our Romeo," Leveaux said.
Leveaux, whose Broadway credits include the musical "Nine" with Antonio Banderas and "Cyrano de Bergerac" starring Kevin Kline, found his Juliet after seeing "Stick Fly" on Broadway and immediately spotting the "luminous" Rashad, who was playing a maid with a secret.
They began to work together and the director was smitten: "That combination of wit and heart, which is what you need in a Juliet, seemed sort of irresistible to me."