MOM’S NIGHT OUT: ROMEO & JULIET – Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman
International film star Orlando Bloom is making his Broadway debut alongside two-time Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad, as Shakespeare‟s star-crossed lovers in a new Broadway production of the timeless love story ROMEO AND JULIET, directed by five-time Tony Award nominee David Leveaux.
The production also stars Tony Award winner Brent Carver (Kiss of the Spider Woman) as Friar Laurence, two-time Tony Award nominee Jayne Houdyshell (Well, Follies) as the Nurse, Tony Award winner Chuck Cooper (The Life, “House Of Cards”) as Lord Capulet, Christian Camargo (All My Sons, The Hurt Locker) as Mercutio, Roslyn Ruff (The Piano Lesson, The Help) as Lady Capulet, Conrad Kemp (HBO‟s “The Girl”, Jerome Salle‟s Zulu) as Benvolio, Justin Guarini (American Idiot, Women on the Verge…) as Paris, Corey Hawkins as Tybalt, and Geoffrey Owens as Prince Escalus. Completing the cast are Donte Bonner, Joe Carroll, Don Guillory, Sheria Irving, Maurice Jones, Eric Loscheider, Spencer Plachy, Michael Rudko, Tracy Sallows, Thomas Schall, Carolyn Michelle Smith and Nance Williamson.
The creative team includes Scenic Designer Jesse Poleshuck (Sly Fox), Costume Designer Fabio Toblini, Lighting Designer David Weiner (The Normal Heart, Grace), Sound Designer David Van Tieghem (The Lyons, Doubt), and Hair Designer David Brian Brown (Death of a Salesman, Follies).
While ROMEO AND JULIET is the most famous love story of all time, this production marks the first time in 36 years that the play will be produced for Broadway. This version of the classic tale retains Shakespeare‟s original language but have a modern setting in which members of the Montague family are white, and the Capulet family is black.
It’s hard not to question the racial casting choice here. Smart move? Opportunity to draw in wider audiences? In a perfect theatrical world, we wouldn’t be debating it. And, while the conflict between the families isn’t a racial one, the casting begs the question.
Regardless, this is a provocative, stirring, smoldering (literally….with stunning columns of fire) production…with a hip, urban vibe (motorcycle, torn jeans and all)….that may draw in younger audiences. Bloom makes an impressive Broadway debut. He appears fully at ease both on stage and with the dialect and is a strong, sexy (if not older Romeo) presence. Rashad is a good complement to him, appearing devoted, pure, wide-eyed and angelic in all white. Their kisses are long and deep, and we feel their connection. The cast in general delivers, and Jayne Houdyshell as the Nurse is both affecting and a hoot. Her performance is layered and delicious.
It is a beautiful story and piece of theatre, and the universality of the theme never grows old…finding love….keeping love….the expense and battle scars of love…..and the ultimately triumph of love over hate.
Tickets are available at The Richard Rodgers Theatre Box Office (226 West 46th Street) or at Ticketmaster.com/1-800-745-3000 for performances through Sunday November 24, 2013. In order to make this production accessible to all, 100 tickets per performance will be set aside at $20* for purchase by students and educators, available at the box office with valid ID or students may access tickets online in advance exclusively through TIX4STUDENTS (www.tix4students.com).
*Prices listed do NOT include the $2 facility fee per ticket purchased. Tix4Students members are subject to Ticketmaster service fees for online orders. Student and educator tickets are not valid on prior purchased tickets and may not be combined with any other promotions. Not all seats available at student and educator pricing. Other restrictions may apply. Limit 2 tickets per order. ALL SALES FINAL. No refunds or exchanges.
PS — What added to my MOM’S NIGHT OUT is that I had the opportunity to attend a special evening for the show, which included delicious Romeo and Juliet cocktails at The Paramount Bar & Grill at The Paramount, a classy NYC Hotel in the heart of Times Square…..had delicious salmon for dinner. And, dessert was supplied by Madecasse Chocolate & Vanilla. The Brooklyn-based company was founded in 2008 by former Peace Corps volunteers while living in Madagascar. They witnessed poverty, and since 70% of the world’s cocao comes from Madagascar, they were inspired to help and launched their company which produces high quality bean-to-bar yummy and rich tasting products sold in stores nationwide and online at http://www.madecasse.com.