A new staging of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet by director David Leveaux will have a twist: Romeo will be white and Juliet will be black.
According to the New York Times, Orlando Bloom will play Romeo; Condola Rashad, Tony nominee for Stick Fly (and daughter of Phylicia Rashad and Ahmad Rashad) will play Juliet.
"They could have been any number of different ethnicities," Mr. Leveaux said in a telephone interview, referring to his casting choices. "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." He decided to make the Capulets an all-black clan and the Montagues all-white to reflect real life rather than make a comment on race, he added.
Meaning: This is not a story about interracial love. It's still about two families at odds over some unknown, long-lost quarrel. As Leveaux puts it: "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. It is still the case that children try to oppose the cultural expectations thrust upon them, the rigidity of tribes, the rigidity of fundamentalism."
Still: Interracial love is attention-grabbing. And attention = dollars, from both black and white audiences. Even for a new generation comfortable with Save The Last Dance, Heidi and Seal, and Olivia and Fitz.