NEW YORK -- Orlando Bloom will make his Broadway debut playing opposite Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, in a production in which the bitter divide between the Montagues and Capulets will be underscored by their different ethnicities.
Five-time Tony nominee David Leveaux will direct the staging, also set to feature Jayne Houdyshell (Follies) as Juliet's Nurse, and Joe Morton (Raisin) as her father, Lord Capulet.
The production will begin previews August 24 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, with official opening set for Sept. 19. Shakespeare's timeless romantic tragedy was last presented on Broadway in 1977. The new version will unfold in a modern setting, but will retain the text's original language.
“Shakespeare did not only write of his world – he imagined ours,” said 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."
Best known for his roles in the Lord of the Rings saga and the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Bloom had extensive stage training in London, where he made his professional debut in 2007 in a West End production of David Storey's In Celebration. Romeo and Juliet will mark his first appearance on Broadway.
Rashad received a Tony nomination in 2012 as best featured actress for her Broadway debut in Stick Fly. Prior to that, she turned heads with her breakout performance Off Broadway in Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, Ruined. She will appear this season opposite Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr. in The Trip to Bountiful, opening April 23. Rashad also starred with Queen Latifah and Alfre Woodard in the recent Lifetime remake of Steel Magnolias.
British director Leveaux was nominated for Tony Awards for Nine, starring Antonio Banderas; The Real Thing, with Stephen Dillane and Jennifer Ehle; Jumpers, with Simon Russell Beale; Anna Christie, starring Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson; and A Moon For the Misbegotten, with Kate Nelligan.
Leveaux's staging is the second production of Romeo and Juliet to be scheduled for later this year. Off Broadway's Classic Stage Company recently announced that Elizabeth Olsen will play Juliet to kick off its 2013-14 season.