Theater: ‘Romeo and Juliet’ on Broadway: Just die already

It's really annoying that there isn't a good horizontal available of both Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad, but there you have it. Credit: Carol Rosegg
It’s annoying that there isn’t a good horizontal photo of both Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad, but at least this way you can check out Romeo’s grand entrance on his badass(?) motorcycle.
Credit: Carol Rosegg

Broadway’s “Romeo and Juliet,” now playing at Richard Rogers Theatre, is unique because, you see, the Montagues are white while the Capulets are black. And racial tension is carried throughout the production with — oh wait, no, it’s not. It’s just sort of assumed, since the families are fighting and have different skin coloring.

Without changing Shakespeare’s words or intents, this play could have articulated an opinion or raised questions on racial identity through staging, choreography or even music. But, aside from a sort-of, kind-of African-themed “ball” at which the ill-fated lovers initially meet, there’s no follow-through. That may be because the director himself, David Leveaux, admittedly didn’t know he’d be going in that direction until Condola Rashad was cast; diversity here, literally, was an afterthought.

Let’s talk about Rashad’s Juliet for a moment: She’s rivaling Celia Keenan-Bolger as Laura Wingfield, two blocks over in “The Glass Menagerie,” for the best woman-child acting on Broadway. With big eyes and a simplistic smile, this fully grown adult — who’s actually quite talented, otherwise — play-acts as a naïve, virginal pubescent when she could have brought some maturity and depth to poor too-soon-wooed Juliet. Orlando Bloom as Romeo, meanwhile, is suitable because he’s British and hot and they found a way to make him appear onstage shirtless. So, good casting there! But as with Rashad’s Juliet, the play loses a little something when the hero is an adult who still acts the role as a teen; it’s harder to forgive Romeo’s childish, selfish impulses. Maybe he’s supposed to be a Millennial.

That’s another way this production of “Romeo and Juliet” supposedly differentiated itself from the many that have come before it: It’s done in a modern style. Well, that’s somewhat original if you discount Baz Luhrmann’s popular 1996 movie. But, let’s not. Because if you compare the two concepts, the film was clearly a fleshed-out aesthetic whereas here, well, there’s a motorcycle once, and the men are wearing jeans, and there’s some graffiti on the walls, and — well, no, that’s about it. Some loud rock music and a few pairs of Levi’s does not a modern Shakespeare play make.

So despite being billed as an edgy look at racial divide via the Bard’s classic romantic tragedy, what’s happening in Midtown is more like: “How many more hours until they start dying?” Oh well, next week John Grisham’s “A Time to Kill” is opening. Surely we’ll all have the chance to exercise our minds on racial and moral constructs then. If not, maybe someone hot will at least take off his shirt.

‘Romeo and Juliet’
Richard Rogers Theatre,
226 W. 46th St.
$88.75-$146.75,
www.romeoandjulietbroadway.com



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Gunther from 'Friends' talks Central Perk

We spoke with Gunther (James Michael Tyler) at the preview for new pop-up Central Perk, based on the cafe in "Friends."

Local

Central Perk opens in SoHo

Central Perk, of "Friends" fame, is giving out free coffee in SoHo through Oct. 18.

National

Beer sponsor Anheuser-Busch reproaches NFL over domestic abuse

Anheuser-Busch chastised the NFL for its handling of domestic violence cases, making it the first major advertiser to put pressure on the league.

Local

Sen. Krueger dishes on prospect of legal marijuana…

New Yorkers may see the legalization of recreational marijuana use as early as 2015 if State Senator Liz Krueger (D) gets her way. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will…

Music

FREEMAN makes Freeman a free man from Ween

For nearly 30 years, Aaron Freeman was known endearingly to his listeners as Gene Ween. But with "FREEMAN," he makes it clear that he's gone somewhere else.

Television

'Outlander' recap: Season 1, Episode 6: 'The Garrison…

Whipping, punching, kicking and a marriage contract. "Outlander" is not for the faint of heart this week with "The Garrison Commander."

The Word

The Word: Hey girl, it's a girl for…

It's a girl for Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who reportedly welcomed a daughter last Friday, according to Us Weekly. The super-private couple managed to…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 16: 'New Girl,'…

Check out the season premiere of "New Girl," as Jess competes with Jessica Biel for a guy's attentions.

MLB

5 top contenders for NL Rookie of the…

The outing rekindled award talk for deGrom, who appears to hold the top spot for NL Rookie of the Year honors. Metro breaks down a few other contenders.

College

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

Style

Rachel Zoe: New York Fashion Week Spring 15

Rachel Zoe goes 'Glam bohemia' for Spring.

Food

Where to find SweeTango apples

Introduced in 2009, SweeTango — a hybrid of Honeycrisp and Zestar — is a sweet apple with plenty of crunch.

Style

London Fashion Week recap

London Fashion week gets in on the action with politics, heritage and summertime living.

Food

Padma Lakshmi's recipe for green mango curry

Padma Lakshmi shares her recipe for green mango curry in UNICEF's new book, "UNICHEF."