You never know who might be out on the streets of the Theatre District in NYC. On Aug 7 '13 it was Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad, Broadway's newest Romeo and Juliet! The undeniably attractive young actors follow in the footsteps of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh from the first Broadway production in 1940. It's been 36 years since the last Broadway production, and this cast features Bloom, in his Broadway debut and Rashad ("Stick Fly," "Trip to Bountiful"), and is directed by David Leveaux (5 time Tony® Award nominee). Also appearing is Brent Carver ("Kiss of the Spiderwoman") as Friar Laurence, and Jane Houdyshell ("Follies") as The Nurse.
This was the "meet the paparazzi" day for Orlando and Condola, complete with motorcycle and graffiti for effect. After posing separately, with some ceremonial revving of the motorcycle by "Romeo,"and then together, for the phalanx of photographers, there was some playful spray painting of the theatre doors.
And based on this brief glimpse, I'd say we're not talking a "traditional" interpretation of Shakespeare's vaulted romantic story, and that's always intrigues me! I've seen Condola in her two previous Tony® Award-nominated turns on Broadway, and am seriously blown away by her charisma on stage. She's also very kind at the stage door, and has an adorable little dog that accompanies her!
It must be love; there's graffiti to prove it! Finished product below, with motorcycle accompaniment.
The (decidedly less glamorous) loading in of the show was in progress within a few hours. Much harder work than posing on a motorcycle for sure! The Richard Rodgers Theatre has received quite a makeover in preparation for the show as well. Playbill.com has a great article about the changes here.
The show has its first preview today, Aug 24 '13, and I'll be seeing it tomorrow! The lovers' story may not have a happy ending, but this beginning appeared to go quite well.
UPDATE: Just for kicks, I checked out the stage door after the performance I attended (only the third preview!), and it took calling in extra police and security to (somewhat unsuccessfully) contain the hordes waiting on both sides of the street for Orlando Bloom.
I did spot Tonya Pinkins, soon to be starring in "A Time to Kill" on Broadway as I was leaving the theatre.
Christopher Plummer. His evolution from captain to father made an avid fan of my eight-year-old self when I first saw "The Sound of Music" in 1965. But my slightly older self gained the proper respect and admiration as well. So the opportunity to be in the audience for a conversation about his life and career this past June was a can't-miss for me.
Michael Kahn, Artistic Director of DC's Shakespeare Theatre Company, conducted the chat~and it really did feel like a delightful "chat," not a formal presentation. Mr. Plummer was endearingly soft-spoken and unassuming, with an infectious laugh. In fact, the best parts of the evening for me were the times that he was chuckling so hard that the audience just couldn't help but start laughing along, without even having heard the "punch line."
There's no way I could truly capture the life journey he took us on for that 90 minutes, but here are ten of my favorite "points" of this true star:
Every story Christopher Plummer told had the audience riveted, and the time flew. I know I wasn't alone in being captivated by this legendary actor; the multitude of stories alone was an embarrassment of riches. But it was his genuineness, humor, self awareness and willingness to be open and vulnerable with respect to his struggles with ego and alcohol, that really drew me in. This was one instantaneous standing ovation that I felt honored to be on my feet for!
Thanks to Michael Kahn and The Shakespeare Theatre Company for the wonderful evening!