Saturday, June 15, 2024

Broadway Getting a Black Juliet, White Romeo in Exciting New Production


This sounds very cool: “Romeo and Juliet” is coming to Broadway for the first time since 1977– and Juliet is being played by an African American. So is her father. Condola Rashad, the very talented daughter of Phylicia Rashad — that’s Claire Huxtable to you TV fans — and Ahmad Rashad, will play the tortured Juliet. One of the great New York actors of all time. Joe Morton, is going to be Lord Capulet. Rashad’s Romeo will be played by movie star Orlando Bloom.

Award winning director David Leveaux is running the show. “Shakespeare did not only write of his world – he imagined ours,” says Leveaux in a statement. “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.”

Performances begin in late August at the Richard Rodgers Theater. Rashad has already been Tony nominated for her role in “Stick Fly.” Of course, the mixed race part of this will only be visible to us, not to the players or the characters. And that’s a real breakthrough for Broadway, where actors of any race or color should be able to play any role. Maybe it is the 21st century after all.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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