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The sound of a motorcycle roars from offstage. What sounds like a sound effect quickly manifests as a real motorcycle. Driven by a black-helmeted rider, the bike enters and crosses from one side of the stage to the other and then to the center of the stage. Under the helmet, the wavy-haired Hollywood star Orlando Bloom makes his Broadway debut as Romeo in the David Leveaux-directed Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. The entrance is dramatic, but not for the right reason. As Bloom attempts to circumnavigate the bike around the wall that crosses the stage, a clumsiness encumbers the bike and its rider. It isn’t hard to imagine this bike flying into the wings or into the audience.
Once the helmet is off, an awkward pause ensued as the actors on stage waited for entrance applause for Bloom. It was not forthcoming, or if so, only slightly.
Bloom proves he has the chops for this stage acting thing though. He’s adjusted his physical, vocal and emotional presence appropriately to accommodate and fill the 1,300-seat house of the Richard Rodgers Theatre. But with his entrance on a motorcycle, we realize that we are no longer dealing with an innocent 16-year-old Romeo. Romeo’s innocence has been replaced by an assured young man with a swagger. Romeo has never been this sexy or probably this old.