David Leveaux’s Romeo and Juliet is a must-see Broadway show

Michael Williams

Romeo and Juliet is one of the greatest love stories about a young couple who fall in love, but is torn apart by the fateful events between their feuding families. Director David Leveaux brought the classic story back to the Broadway stage on Sep. 19 at the Richard Rogers Theatre, featuring a wonderfully talented cast.

Orlando Bloom, famous for The Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean, stars as the silver-tounged Romeo opposite Tony-nominee Condola Rashad, known from Stick Fly and The Trip to Bountiful, who plays the beautiful Juliet. Other notable cast members are Brent Carver, Jayne Houdyshell, Chuck Cooper, Roslyn Ruff, and “American Idol” runner-up Justin Guarani.

Orlando Bloom is a heartthrob who is able to convey the romantic attributes of Romeo to audiences. However, he is too old to be playing the specific character. Casting Orlando Bloom was a smart choice from a marketing standpoint to maximize profits, but the inaccurate age of Romeo veers from the original text; Condola Rashad is about ten years younger than her co-star and easily reflects the age of her character. Bloom gives a powerful performance nonetheless, regardless of the distracting and out-of-place purple briefs he wears. Bloom receives applause upon his entrances, during elongated kisses with Rashad, when performing his own stunts and when he walks onstage shirtless. The movie-star reputation precedes Bloom when audiences take their seats, but upon leaving the theatre, audiences can see that Bloom is a great actor by his portrayal of Romeo. Bloom’s previous training is evident as he performs Shakespeare’s dialogue so naturally, with an understanding of the text and the attached pentameter.

The show is brought to life through more than the great performances and chemistry between the co-stars. The set, though simple, is a genius creation. It is adaptable and is depicted in a new way for each scene change. The live fire enhances the set, which is only appropriate for a show like Romeo and Juliet that is meant to set hearts on fire, but the show lacks because of the lack of passion between the two lovers. The make-out scenes are effective, but most audiences do not know the entire story and expect an emphasis on the romantic interest between the two. Additional sexual encounters could have been a people-pleaser for the audience, yet Leveaux should be praised for staying trueto the text for the most part, while still making it contemporary.

There are various dances and music throughout, which are beneficial to a play that has been performed as many times as Romeo and Juliet. Also, the visual of the two interracial families was powerful on the stage and brought about another contemporary interpretation of Leveaux’s Broadway play.

Chuck Cooper’s performance as Lord Capulet is one to look out for, and he could pick up a Tony nomination for his performance as Juliet’s stern, yet compassionate father. Be sure to catch the show before it closes. For more information on the show and how to purchase tickets, please visit: http://romeoandjulietbroadway.com/.