The 36-year-old actor got a serious, in-character smooch from Condola Rashad on Wednesday in NYC. Orlando and the 26-year-old Tony nominee play the central star-crossed lovers in this revival of the Shakespearean tragedy, but casting them—and their onstage families—didn't come without some controversy.
Romeo Montague (Orlando) and the Capulet family members are all played by Caucasian actors, while Juliet Capulet (Condola) and her family member are all African-American. "They could have been any number of different ethnicities," director David Leveaux explained to The New York Times. "The two actors I wanted to be together producing sparks just happened to be those two and I followed my nose in casting the families."
Leveaux said that he cast the Capulets and Montagues as different ethnicities "to reflect real life rather than make a comment on race."
"I'm not about to turn a contemporary version of Shakespeare into a sociological or political point," he added. "We know there are families from one background or another who would reject their children getting together with someone from another group. Romeo and Juliet reject that notion."
Pretty soon, you can see for yourself if the Broadway revival can compete with the epic 1996 movie remake with Claire Danes and Leonado DiCaprio. Previews for Romeo and Juilet begin Aug. 24, and the play is set for a Sept. 19 opening.