Romeo and Juliet and Becco

Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad are the sweetest Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is the first Shakespeare taught in school. We saw this black and white R&J, David Leveaux’s gorgeous production, at a Wednesday matinee full of school groups. You could hear a pin drop when Condola Rashad (Juliet) and Orlando Bloom (Romeo) kiss. They seem to be truly in love.

Jensen and Tracy Sallows after the show
Jesse Poleshuck’s contemporary set reflects their star-crossed passion and creates beautiful moving pictures — accented with a graffiti-tagged Fra Angelico painting, a screen of jumping flames, big balloons for a banquet, and touches of red (Romeo’s socks and shoes). The lovers are on fire, myopic and indulgent. We almost forget what’s to come: Juliet on a floating bed perched between life and death.

The audience was enraptured with Mercutio, Christian Camargo, a mesmerizing actor like a young Bill Nighy. Jayne Houdyshell adds welcome ballast and laughs as the Nurse, with a red handbag and a bicycle. (A lot has been written about Orlando Bloom’s entrance on a motorcycle, in a helmet.) Tracy Sallows as Lady Montague and Roslyn Ruff as Lady Capulet do so much with their parts. It’s hard not to fall in love with the entire cast.

An all-female Julius Caesar from London, presented at Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn is another stunner in this Shakespeare-heavy season, directed by Phyllida Lloyd as a comment on male behavior.

Clam linguini at the Becco bar

You might want to book if you plan to go to Becco pre-matinee, but last-minute seats at the bar are comfortable. A prix fixe with three pastas, appetizer and dessert makes this friendly Italian restaurant very popular, with a selection of wine at $25 a bottle. Handsome, theatrical waiters appear with platters, offering second helpings (which can be wrapped up to go). Since we were here a year ago, the prices have gone up slightly, but Becco remains a fun place to eat and one of the best deals on Theatre Row.