Monday, September 23, 2013

Quick Hit Broadway Theater Review: Romeo & Juliet with Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad

Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad.
Romeo and Juliet
By William Shakespeare
Starring Condola Rashad, Orlando Bloom and Jayne Houdyshell
Directed by David Leveaux

What's It All About?
If you have to ask, let me suggest you go read it, or get the Sparks Notes. In this version, the Capulets are black, the Montagues are white. Romeo (Orlando Bloom of "Pirates of the Caribbean" "Lord of the Rings" fame) makes his entrance on a motorcycle wearing red biker boots. You get the picture. Juliet (Condola Rashad (Ruined, Stick Fly and Trip to Bountiful) is the pure innocent, white clad object of his affection (Fabio Toblini creates the costumes). Their stars are crossed.

What are the Highlights?
Jayne Houdyshell as the nurse is fun. Some fire pillars (set design by Jesse Poleshuck) at the Capulets ball are very cool. Nancy Bannon provides some clever movement to original music by David Van Tieghem (who also designs the sound). Christian Camargo is the standout in this production, as a funny and sharp Mercutio. Chuck Cooper also gives a nice turn as Lord Capulet.

What are the Lowlights?
Let's start with no chemistry between Romeo and Juliet. Rashad has her best moments playing the famous balcony scene with some humor, but overall, her Juliet comes off so innocent and pure that she almost seems like a simpleton. Blame must rest with director David Levaux, because Rashad certainly has shown her ability to find deeper character in her other roles on New York stages. Brent Carver, another talented actor, is grossly miscast as Friar Laurence and most of the humor in that role is lost. Even Houdyshell doesn't seem to take a role, definitely suited for her comedic talents, and run with it. It's all sort of ho-hum and leaves us wondering why this particular version should have been the one to come to Broadway.

Technical irritations: the lighting (design by David Weiner) is problematic throughout, especially for the balcony scene (this is supposed to be night and Juliet isn't supposed to be able to see Romeo, but neither is designed) and Juliet is lost in the shadows at the moment Romeo supposedly spies her and falls in love. Also, Poleshuck uses a large bell that hangs ominously over the set (when it's not being raised or lowered to the stage for no apparent reason) as a constant reminder of -- what? Bells have no significance in Romeo and Juliet. Ask not for whom the bell tolls? The lighting also causes shadows of the rope to distract from the scene in the tomb..At any rate, Bloom almost collided with the thing while making a quick stage-left exit in the dark, but swerved just in time to avoid injury.

More information:
Romeo and Juliet is set to run through Jan. 12, 2014 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre226 West 46th St., NYC. Tickets: 800-745-3000.

Christians might also like to know:
-- Sexually suggestive moves

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Intensive and other training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice preseint and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (event manager for the annual awards ceremony), The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and the Drama League. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She also is a member of the Episcopal Actors' Guild, the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts and The O'Neill Theatre Center..

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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