Romeo & Juliet is arguably the best-known love story of all time.
We've seen many incarnations on film and on stage, but Broadway's Romeo & Juliet is a combination of both. We spoke with the actress tasked with playing the tragic heroine opposite Orlando Bloom's Romeo, and Condola Rashad had some very interesting things to say about the film as well as the reaction to her taking on such an iconic role.
We at Lime had the pleasure of watching you in "Broadway's Romeo & Juliet", can you tell us about how you became involved in the project?
Well I had been saying that the next thing I wanted to work on professionally was Shakespeare. Because I believe that when you do Shakespeare, you can't help but come out a better actor. I had heard rumors that they were casting for a broadway production of Romeo And Juliet so I called up my agents and manager to get me in that room if the rumors were true. And then the full audition process went on for about six months and I didn't tell anyone that I was going in for it so as not to jinx anything. Then I flew to Los Angeles to do a chemistry read with Orlando [Bloom] and the rest is history.
Is it daunting to play such a literary and stage icon?
It can be daunting if you're not thinking about it the right way. I knew that there was going to be a lot of speculation because of how iconic the role is, so I decided to let all of the at go, and just go about the play as if it were any other play, and not treat the role as if she were an icon because at the end of the day, Juliet doesn't know she's an icon, she's just a girl in love.
Of the many productions, both on stage and on screen, of Romeo & Juliet, did you take inspiration from any earlier version? Also, which of those earlier versions are your personal favourites?
Well I do love the Baz Luhrmann film. But I really tried to just go in and push any other production of it out of my mind, I just wanted it to be as organic as possible so I just focused on what we were building.
Have you faced any backlash playing a black Juliet opposite a white Romeo?
I dealt with quite a bit of racist tweets. Which was very surprising to me. But at the time I decided not to address it and just leave that hatred right on the floor because I had to work to do and I wasn't about to let any ignorant people distract me from what it was I had to do. But yes, racism is still very much here for anyone who thinks it has calmed down.
Did you do anything different for the filmed version of the play as opposed to any other night?
No. We were told not to. We were told that they wanted to capture what it was that we were doing every other night, so not to change anything. That is something that I hope the audience will know walking in to see the film. It's not that we created a film we just simply filmed a theater production.
How do you go about creating chemistry with a fellow actor (in this case Orlando Bloom)?
And is it any different to working on film or TV, when working on the stage?
It's really a matter of trust. We had a great deal of trust between the two of us. Also, we naturally had a sense of play between us, so we organically created that bond.
(Orlando Bloom will be receiving a star on the Hollywood walk of fame on 2 April)
Were you intimidated by the high-profile nature of the project and the cast?
No. And there were people who thought that I should be intimidated by it, but the truth is once you're in the rehearsal room, we are all just actors trying to tell a story and it doesn't matter if anyone has a high profile outside of the room.
What do you hope audiences take away from the show?
I never have an answer for that question. I just hope that they have a great time watching it, and that the story is clear for them.
Finally, can you tell us a bit about what you have coming up next?
Yes!!! I am filming a pilot for a new television series on Fox called "Hieroglyph". It's a really cool fantasy drama set in ancient Egypt. I'm playing the pharaoh's half sister "Nefertari". I'm very excited about it.
Broadway's 'Romeo and Juliet' opens nationwide on 1 April