By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi
The other evening I was reading a review of the much-hyped Broadway production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This latest version stars Orlando Bloom. While I do not personally know Mr. Bloom, I do know that his was the most gorgeous face in Pirates of the Caribbean. He was even prettier than Kiera Knightley, and he possesses the more intriguing name, not that it is totally relevant, but I thought I would highlight my fascination with his name. Mr. Bloom garnered rave reviews from Ben Brantley in The New York Times, which are the reviews one wants for Broadway. Nora Ephron pointed out the power of a NY Times review in regard to a play of hers that did not receive a power positive review some years ago. In her last book, I Remember Nothing, she chronicles the gnawing wound of a failure, and the potent trajectory of what a fine review in the venerable newspaper can do for a play or film.
Which brings me to Leonard Whiting. Not that this is the smoothest of segues from Orlando Bloom to Nora Ephron to Leonard Whiting, but it kind of works, so I am going to let it slide. In Franco Zeffarelli’s 1968 film version of Romeo and Juliet, my eyes were riveted to that Romeo as Shakespeare’s glorious words tumbled easily from his doomed hero’s mouth. “She doth teach the torches to burn brightly,” Romeo marvels upon first laying eyes upon Olivia Hussey’s Juliet. Small wonder, for this Juliet was drop dead stunning, as was this particular Romeo. When I saw the photos of Orlando Bloom as Romeo, I had that same kind of amazement. Maybe it is the wide-set, soulful eyes, the finely chiseled features, and the ripper bods, I mean the sculpted chests of both of these Romeos, coupled with their sonorous voices, although I admit I have not seen Mr. Bloom’s Broadway Romeo, but knowing he first appears onstage clad in black leather, riding a motorcycle, makes me think his voice is just icing on the visual cake. Admittedly, I eschew the modern trappings of period pieces, I looked beyond the contemporary setting and saw only Mr. Bloom, much like I did when I viewed Leonardo DiCaprio in Romeo + Juliet [a most silly spectacle of a film].
What does it all mean? For one thing I count it a blessing that my heart can still quicken its pace over a hunky rendition of man. For another, it means I am able to at least momentarily gaze beyond the outward beauty of the man and appreciate the rhythms of Shakespeare. I must put Zefferelli’s Romeo and Juliet into the DVD player tonight and let the sonorous sounds of The Bard wash over me as I am transported to “…Verona where we lay our scene, where ancient grudge lay to new mutiny…”
Ciao for now.