New Broadway Production Of ROMEO AND JULIET With Orlando Bloom And Condola Rashad

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International film star Orlando Bloom will make his Broadway debut alongside Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad, as Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers in anew Broadway production of the timeless love story ROMEO AND JULIET, directed by five-time Tony Award nominee David Leveaux.

The show will open on Broadway on Thursday, September 19, 2013 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, following preview performances from Saturday, August 24, 2013.

The production's 21 member cast will also star Tony Award winner Brent Carver as Friar Laurence,  two-time Tony Award nominee Jayne Houdyshell as the Nurse,and two-time Tony Award nominee Chuck Cooper as Lord Capulet.

The new production will mark the first time in 36 years that the most famous love story of all time will be produced on Broadway.  This version of the classic tale will retain Shakespeare's original language but have a modern setting in which members of the contentious Montague and Capulet families will be of differing ethnicities.

One of Shakespeare's best known and most beloved plays, ROMEO AND JULIET belongs to a tradition of tragic-romances dating back over 500 years.  The famous youthful lovers first appeared in Italian novella in the 1500's and gained popularity in England after being adapted and translated into English by Arthur Brooke in 1562.

As described in Brooke's poem, "The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet" - on which Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" is based - while the Montagues and Capulets are from different "races" or "stocks" their deadly feud is not based on their race, but rather on the "grudging envy" of men of "equal state." 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.

"Shakespeare did not only write of his world - he imagined ours," says Leveaux. "The very improbability that two young people might, through their imaginations and their courage, change the world by overcoming the cynical tyranny of division handed down to them by their elders, is the best and happily most improbable reason I can imagine to bring this story to the Broadway stage today."

The last time ROMEO AND JULIET was produced on Broadway was the 1977 Circle in the Square production featuring Paul Ryan Rudd and Pamela Payton-Wright.Other notable New York productions include:  the Public Theater's 2012 gala staged-reading at the Delacorte Theater starring Kevin Kline and Meryl Streep; the Royal Shakespeare Company's 2011 production at the Park Avenue Armory starring Sam Troughton and Mariah Gale; the Public Theater's 2007 Shakespeare in the Park production starring Oscar Isaac and Lauren Ambrose; the 1986 Shakespeare on Broadway for the Schools repertory production starring Geoffrey Owens and Regina Taylor; The Old Vic Company's 1956 production at the Winter Garden Theater starring John Neville and Claire Bloom; as well as the 1940 Broadway production starring Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh.

The Producers are: Stephen C. Byrd and Alia M. Jones of Front Row Productions, producers of Horton Foote's The Trip to Bountiful, currently on Broadway, and nominated for 4 Tony Awards and featuring Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams Cuba Gooding Jr., and Condola Rashad. Other Front Row Production Broadway shows were: Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire featuring Blair Underwood, Nicole Ari Parker; and, the first African American Broadway Production of Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof -- the biggest grossing Broadway play that season-- which was later successfully transferred to London's West End, starring James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad with Terrence Howard and Anika Noni Rose on Broadway; Adrian Lester and Sanaa Lathan on the West End. The West End transfer garnered the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Revival of a Play. 



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