Orlando Bloom, an English actor best known here for his work in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy films, and Condola Rashad, who has earned Tony nominations for the past two years, are playing the star-crossed lovers in Will Shakespeare's “Romeo and Juliet.” DirectorDavid Leveauxhastaken a modernview of this ancient tale, both in casting and in costumes-which by the way are designed by Fabio Toblini, who has won awards for his work from the Connecticut Critics.
Ragged moments and the look of a good college production are offset by the energy and youth and charm of these two young people and the supporting cast, consisting of Jayne Houdyshell as the bumptious Nurse, Christian Camargo as Romeo's dynamic friend, Mercutio, Chuck Cooper as Juliet's imperious father, Lord Capulet, Roslyn Ruff as Juliet's elegant, restrained mother, and the excellent Geoffrey Owens as Prince Escalus, a noble narrator.
Orlando Bloom's Romeo rides in a motorcycle to meet a rowdy bunch of men, fighting among themselves. It is a little startling and unsettling that of the two warring families, the Capulets are black and the Montagues are white, and the scene is reminiscent of “West Side Story.” Romeo invades a ball at the Capulets' home and there meets and falls head over heels with Juliet. Who wouldn't? As Juliet, Condola Rashad, tall and willowy, possesses expressive eyes the size of saucers that fill with amazement, love and trembling as if she were a thirteen year old. Which she is supposed to be. While swinging in the air or climbing up and down a stairway-she manages to recite her lines with aplomb. Bloom is attractive and pleasant and speaks very clearly, but tends to skims the surface of the lines.
Their secret pairing is fraught with fear when Romeo kills Tybalt, her cousin; Juliet's dad forces her into a match with Paris. This American Idol runner-up Justin Guarini, whose name was originally Justin Bell, looks as stiff as a ramrod. The wedding is scheduled for a few days hence; dad does not know that she has already married Romeo. The ceremony was presided over by Friar Laurence, a quiet Brent Carver, whose outfit does not define him well.
The end, for those who do not know it, is very sad. The plot that Romeo and Juliet work out with the Friar involves a potion to make her appear dead. It works so well, Romeo kills himself. She follows suit.
“Romeo and Juliet” at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway.