Romeo and Juliet: in brief
Shakespeare’s timeless romantic tragedy returns for a contemporary revival, starring Hollywood pretty boy Orlando Bloom, who will play Montague to Tony nominee Condola Rashad’s Capulet. In David Leveaux’s modernized staging, the star-crossed lovers are divided by racial tensions, though they’ll still employ the Bard’s original language. Get those hankies ready.
Romeo and Juliet: theater review by David Cote
In David Leveaux’s handsome but weirdly restrained Romeo and Juliet, the Montagues are played by white actors and the Capulets by black ones, and the civil unrest that roils Verona’s streets is good old-fashioned racial animosity. The tactic is as old as West Side Story and has been repeated many times since. If used, the concept ought to inform an entire production and shed light on Shakespeare’s classic tale about the timelessness of love and the bad timing of impetuous youths in love. But, as with many of Leveaux’s slick and often empty forays onto Broadway, the color-coding is only skin-deep.
Chances are the idea followed the casting of Condola Rashad as Juliet and Orlando Bloom as Romeo. But the world that we see at the Richard Rodgers Theatre is an all-too-familiar, stylized mix of modern clothes and attitudes (Romeo enters on a motorcycle) and heavy-handed gestures to a faded past (a late-medieval fresco on a back wall covered in graffiti). When Leveaux and set designer Jesse Poleshuck want to telegraph danger or passion, they shoot flames from vertical and horizontal poles that traverse the space. Like the lead actors, it’s pretty to look at, but seldom connects with anything deep.
Chemistry is what you look for in the title pairing, and that’s noticeably lacking here. Rashad is always lovely and effortlessly charming, but she’s been encouraged to play up the textual fact that Juliet is a mere 13. Thus she’s all dewy innocence and saucer eyes, line readings stuck too high in a girlish register. Bloom conveys a slightly older hipster (which gives the romance a provocative, asymmetrical twist), while embracing Romeo’s foppish, self-loving side. We don’t get many revivals of the classic on professional stages, so it’s safe to say that Bloom’s swaggering, matinee-idol Romeo will be the most engaging you’ll see in years. But this is also the least erotically charged or sexually frank Romeo and Juliet I’ve ever attended.
In the supporting roles, Jayne Houdyshell is a lovable but too-shrewd Nurse and Christian Camargo overdoes the crotch-grabbing as cynical Mercutio. All would be forgiven, though, if the young lovers’ ardor could burn brighter than the pyrotechnic F/X.—Theater review by David Cote
Follow David Cote on Twitter: @davidcote
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It's hard to know how to rate a show that has such a vacuum where the leads should be. Every single supporting player was better than the leads. Mercutio was good. Juliet's father was wonderful. However, the star of the show was Jayne Houdyshell as the nurse. She had the audience eating out of her hand. Truly an amazing performance on her part.
This was the worst performance I have ever seen on or off Broadway. I honestly thought they were joking at the death scenes, starting with Mercutio's where it didn't even seem like Romeo cared at all whether Mercutio was dead/dying. I like Orlando Bloom (I've only seen him on film) but I felt he did a really poor job. It felt like nobody really cared to even be on stage. I was so disappointed and would not recommend this to anyone.
I'm such a picky theater goer since moving to NYC last year. I go nearly every week and have seen many shows on Broadway that were such disappointments. I'm am so happy to say that ROMEO AND JULIET was thoroughly enjoyable. Yes, the men are a bit stronger in this cast as it seemed impossible for the women to create as indelible of a human performance as Jayne Houdyshell as NURSE. She definitely deserves a Tony Award nom. So Condola Rashad as Juliet was left in her dust. Orlando Bloom was terrific and Christian Carmago as Mercurtio is worth the price of entry (though I saw it via TDF discount). And that guy that looks like American Idol season one runner up Justin Guarino - IS. The set and staging were compelling and Broadway worthy. The language is a bit difficult to understand every sentence, but the story is easy to follow. Get thee a ticket lest thee miss a rare stellar show!
This is going to be THE MOST FANTASTIC SHOW OF ALL TIME as a performance of ROMEO & JULIET...How could it not be hugely popular and a SELL-OUT! ....MOST OF US are SO EXCITED and CANT WAIT to SEE IT.. David Leveaux, Orlando Bloom, Condola Rashad... HOW CAN THAT COMBINATION EVER FAIL!! I FORECAST it will be a winner in ever sense of the word! ORLANDO BLOOM will be available after to sign photographs....PHEW.! This is an opportunity NOT TO BE MISSED!