Orlando Bloom, Condola Rashad tackle Shakespeare
By Mark Kennedy ,APNEW YORK -- When Condola Rashad snagged the coveted role of Juliet opposite Orlando Bloom's Romeo on Broadway, she was overjoyed. Now she could get finally get some answers.
September 21, 2013, 12:07 am TWN
“I'm a huge 'Lord of the Rings' fan,” confesses the actress. “There were actually times in rehearsal when I was like, 'OK, not to geek out really quick, but I need to know: What is the difference between an Uruk-hai and an Orc?' I had to know.”
Bloom, who played the Elf Legolas in the films based on J.R.R. Tolkien novels, patiently played along. He explained the difference and then blew her mind: “I told her Orcs used to be Elves,” he says, laughing.
Chemistry is important if you're playing the leads in “Romeo and Juliet,” and conversations with both lead actors at the Richard Rodgers Theatre suggest they've got that elusive spark.
“We talk things out, we sense each other. We both know when a scene is off because we're both there together. It's about listening to each other,” says Rashad, a rising star on Broadway with back-to-back Tony Award nominations for “Stick Fly” and “The Trip to Bountiful.”
For his part, Bloom gushes: “She's wonderful. She's luminous. She has a presence onstage that commands whatever is happening. And those eyes! They're huge, and she's beautiful.” His Juliet, he adds, is “perfect casting.”
While Rashad, who is the daughter of actress Phylicia Rashad of “The Cosby Show” and sportscaster Ahmad Rashad, may be a stage veteran at 26, this marks her first full professional Shakespeare production. Ditto for Bloom, 36, who has never been on Broadway before.
“It's a monster of a play,” says Bloom, sadly. “I tend to do this. I tend to set myself some pretty high bars to reach. It's crazy exciting, daunting and all the rest. What is there to lose?”
This retelling of the classic love story is set in a timeless, unspecified place, a smashup of the past and present. It seems to be a hot, authoritarian world, where women wear shawls and earth-tones dominate the costumes.
There's sand onstage and graffiti mars the frescos on the back wall. Rashad is often barefoot (“It feels great. I feel grounded,” she says), and Bloom makes his entrance on a souped-up Triumph Scrambler. (“It looks like something Steve McQueen would have ridden,” he says.)