Beginning August 24, “Lord of the Rings” star Orlando Bloom will make his Broadway debut in a production of “Romeo and Juliet,” as the male lead. His costar will be the Tony-nominated daughter of actress Phylicia Rashad, Condola Rashad, the New York Times reports.
Though the casting choices find the star-crossed lovers to be an interracial couple, director David Leveaux says that wasn’t his intention. “They could have been any number of different ethnicities,” he says, “The two actors I wanted to be together producing sparks just happened to be those two.” The casting decision led to the Capulets, Juliet’s family, being an all-black clan, while Romeo’s family, the Montagues, are all-white.
He says the decision was more about being realistic, rather than making social a commentary. “I’m not about to turn a contemporary version of Shakespeare into a sociological or political point,” Leveaux says, “We know there are families from one background or another who would reject their children getting together with someone from another group. Romeo and Juliet reject that notion.”
This will be Broadway’s first production of the classic tale since 1977. Another production of “Romeo and Juliet,” taking place Off Broadway, is also set for the Fall with Elizabeth Olsen as Juliet.
Following preview performances, “Romeo and Juliet” with Bloom and Rashad will officially open September 19 at the Richard Rodgers Theater.