Helmed by David Leveaux, the gritty, contemporary staging of Romeo and Juliet began previews Aug. 24. Leveaux has staged Arcadia, Cyrano de Bergerac, Nine, The Glass Menagerie and Jumpers on Broadway, among others.
"Well, ours is certainly not a pretentious revival on a barren stage," Bloom told Playbill in a recent feature. "It strikes the right balance of absorbing language and powerful imagery that people can viscerally, emotionally connect to. The great thing about Romeo and Juliet is that you can just buy a ticket and take the ride. There's more to it, but there's a beautifully simple love story at its core, and who doesn't want to see two people fall in love? It's amazing to witness that deep open-heartedness. I love a bit of romance."
This production marks the first time in 36 years that the play has been produced for Broadway. This version of the classic tale, according to press notes, "will retain Shakespeare’s original language but have a modern setting in which members of the Montague family will be white, and the Capulet family will be black."
Bloom also commented on the interracial concept for the revival. "To me, the story is more about two lovers who aren't allowed to be together, so it doesn't matter if they're black, white, or whatever. When I first met with actresses for chemistry reads, I didn't just meet with black actresses. The whole race thing only evolved after Condola was cast," he said.
In addition to Bloom as Romeo and Rashad as Juliet, the cast also features Tony Award nominee Jayne Houdyshell (Follies, Dead Accounts) as the Nurse, Tony Award winner Brent Carver (Kiss of the Spider Woman, Parade) as Friar Laurence, Tony winner Chuck Cooper (The Life; Caroline, or Change) as Lord Capulet, Christian Camargo ("The Hurt Locker," "Twilight," All My Sons) as Mercutio, Justin Guarini (Women on the Verge, "American Idol") as Paris, Roslyn Ruff ( The Piano Lesson, "The Help") as Lady Capulet, Conrad Kemp ("The Girl") as Benvolio, Corey Hawkins as Tybalt and Geoffrey Owens as Prince Escalus.
|photo by Carol Rosegg|
Completing the company 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, costume designer Fabio Toblini, lighting designer David Weiner, sound designer David Van Tieghem and hair designer David Brian Brown.
The Richard Rodgers Theatre also underwent an extensive renovation prior to the start of performances. Take a look inside the restoration of the historic theatre here.
According to producers, "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."
Producers have set aside 100 tickets per performance at $20 for purchase by students and educators.
For tickets visit Ticketmaster.com. The Richard Rodgers Theatre is located at 226 W. 46th Street.