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This Week On Stage: Orlando Bloom takes on the Bard and a Return to Oz

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Romeo And Juliet 02
Carol Rosegg

Everyone’s back to school and back to work, and that includes theater folk, as EW reinstates its This Week on Stage column to let you know what’s going on all over the country and what you should be spending those ducats on. The past week has seen a variety of new productions, from a new tour of a beloved family classic and the newest by one-half of the acclaimed Coen brothers to an unlikely opera chronicling a tragic pop culture figure and Legolas on the woo in the first Broadway revival of Romeo and Juliet in 36 years (click on the links below for the full reviews):

Anna Nicole  The late Playboy centerfold and troubled pop icon gets her very own opera, debuting at Brooklyn Academy of Music after a debut at London’s Royal Opera House in 2011. Could our Kyle Anderson resist the buxom beauty? He asks, “Are we meant to have sympathy for Smith or is she a figure of scorn? The show can’t decide.” but has nothing but praise for Sarah Joy Miller in the title role, countering, “[The show] is held aloft by Sarah Joy Miller’s performance in the title role.” EW grade: B-

Philip Goes Forth  An eight-decades-old play by George Kelly (The Torch Bearers) gets an extremely rare makeover by the acclaimed Mint Theater Company in NYC. Was it worth the wait? My take is that it should have stayed in mothballs, “There is shockingly little tension for this wisp of a tale, and the actors and creators seem at odds over how to present it…is there any inherent drama in a play about a writer who writes?” EW grade: C

Romeo and Juliet  Orlando Bloom takes on Romeo (with a motorcycle-assisted entrance no less) opposite rising star Condola Rashad in this first of two fall productions of the classic starcrossed lovers tragedy (look for the off-Broadway Elizabeth Olsen-starring one next month). Senior editor Thom Geier did not find it a rose by any other name, stating it a “middling modern-dress Broadway revival” and has mixed feelings on Bloom’s Broadway debut: “motorcycles and pull-ups on Juliet’s balcony are not enough to convey the impetuousness of youth, and too often Bloom falls back on shouting to mimic heightened emotion.” EW grade: C+

The Wizard of Oz  Andrew Lloyd Webber and company went on the hunt for a new Dorothy in the Canadian reality show Over the Rainbow and cast newcomer Danielle Wade over a slew of hopeful ruby red slipper-wearers. Our own Laura Hertzfeld caught the appealing new production currently running on a 22-city tour until June 2014. “Happily, Lloyd Webber’s new stage production sticks pretty closely to the classic film. After all, there’s no place like home,” she says, adding that “Wade’s voice is strong and vulnerable at the same time.” EW grade: B+

Women or Nothing  Ethan Coen returns with a full-length play after several go-rounds with one-acts in this comic tale of a pair of women trying to conceive who enlist the help of a male donor who is called upon to seduce one of them. Did Thom Geier have a gay old time? Not quite. “Certainly all the ingredients are in place: a promising setup, a sterling cast, crisp direction by David Cromer, and some hilarious banter between various characters. But Women or Nothing feels undercooked.” EW grade: C+