Casting is now complete for the National Theatre's Jessie Buckley and Josh O’Connor-led Romeo and Juliet, which will air in the U.S. on PBS April 23 at 9 PM ET as part of its Great Performances series. (The Shakespeare classic debuts in the U.K. April 4 on Sky Arts.)
As previously reported, the made-for-TV-movie is being presented in lieu of an in-person staging at the U.K. venue. NT Associate Simon Godwin directs the adaptation from Emily Burns. The Lyttelton stage was turned into a film studio, making this the first time an original production for the screen was created on the National’s campus.
Joining Buckley and Josh O’Connor in the cast are the newly announced Olivier winner Adrian Lester as the Prince, Lloyd Hutchinson as Lord Capulet, Colin Tierney as Lord Montague, and Ella Dacres as Peta. The company also includes Fisayo Akinade as Mercutio, Deborah Findlay as the Nurse, Tamsin Greig as Lady Capulet, Lucian Msamati as the Friar, Shubham Saraf as Benvolio, David Judge as Tybalt, Alex Mugnaioni as Paris, and Ellis Howard as Sampson.
In this contemporary rendering of Shakespeare’s work, a company of actors in a shuttered theatre bring to life the tale of two young lovers who strive to transcend a world of violence and hate.
The creative team also includes director of photography Tim Sidell, production and costume designer Soutra Gilmour, movement directors Jonathan Goddard and Shelley Maxwell, fight director Kate Waters, and composer Michael Bruce. National Theatre produces in association with Sabel Productions and Cuba Pictures.
“Shakespeare's potential for reinvention is endless,” said Godwin in a recent statement. “Over 17 days of filming, the company was united by a sense of shared exploration. As well as being given intimate access to the thoughts and feelings of characters, we were able to bring to life remarkable, forgotten spaces at the National Theatre. Desire, dreams and destiny came together to make Romeo & Juliet sing in an entirely new way.”