The “Romeo and Juliet” that arrives on Broadway next season starring Orlando Bloom may be the first Main Stem staging of the Shakespeare play since 1986 — but it’s not the first production of the show to announce plans for next season. That’d be Classic Stage Company’s brewing Off Broadway incarnation, also starring a movie name, Elizabeth Olsen.
But don’t call it a teen-tragedy throwdown. Each production is plainly pointed at a different audience, so sales cannibalization seems likely to be minimal even if the timing of the two shows overlaps.
There’s canny logic behind the casting of Bloom, making his Main Stem debut in the role. After establishing his heartthrob cred in two blockbuster bigscreen series, “The Lord of the Rings” and “Pirates of the Caribbean,” he’s acquired a fanbase of swoony young-skewing females who also could be a prime target demo for a new staging of “Romeo and Juliet,” the teen-centric tale that’s often among the first Bard titles to which youths are exposed.
The thesp’s movie fans could bolster and enhance sales from the theater avids interested in checking out the legit regulars also on board for the production, including Brit helmer David Leveaux (“Cyrano de Bergerac,” “Arcadia”) and thesps Condola Rashad (as Juliet), Jayne Houdyshell and Joe Morton. Produced by Susan Bristow (“Cyrano”), Leveaux’s take on the story envisions the famous inter-family rift rooted in the fact that the Capulets are black and the Montagues are white.
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The CSC production, meanwhile, has more modest sales aims — and it can afford to, because CSC is a nonprofit with far fewer seats to sell (199 per perf, vs. 1,384 at the Richard Rodgers, where the Bloom production will play). Olsen’s screen credits have so far been in smaller indie projects such as “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and “Kill Your Darlings,” making the actress likely to draw more of an arthouse crowd to CSC.
Still, Olsen’s presence in a familiar play could be enough to power sales at the nonprofit, especially if the troupe taps a full cast of well-respected names, as it has for its recent string of much-lauded and sold-out classics such as “Ivanov” and “The Cherry Orchard,” among others.
No other details about the Olsen production of “Romeo and Juliet” have yet been set, including the dates. But the staging is due to launch the 2013-14 season at CSC, which means it could find itself running at the same time as the Broadway incarnation, set to begin perfs Aug. 24 ahead of a Sept. 19 opening.