(The Cushman sisters, Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev, Leonardo
di Caprio and Claire Danes, and stars of the STC production in 2013
Dylan Young and Eryn Jean Norvill)
* Actor and theatre-owner Richard Burbage (who was played by Martin
Clunes in the very loosely historical film Shakespeare in
Love) is believed to have been the first Romeo. The premiere
date of the play is uncertain, but the first quarto version was
printed in 1597, and it is thought to have been written and first
performed sometime in the previous decade.
* In 1662, Mary Saunderson became the first woman to play Juliet
professionally due to pre-Restoration laws against women performing
on stage, which were changed in 1660.
* Romeo and Juliet experienced a renaissance in the US in
the mid-19th century, almost 100 years after it was first produced
there, thanks to the moving interpretation performed by two sisters
Susan and Charlotte Cushman, who played Romeo and Juliet
* Edwin Booth (brother to the man who assassinated Abraham Lincoln,
John Wilkes Booth, also an actor) performed a season of Romeo
and Juliet opposite his future wife Mary McVicker in 1869
(four years after his brother changed history). The production,
described as the most elaborate ever seen in America, ran for six
weeks and was the most financially successful ever seen in that
* There are 24 operas based on Romeo and Juliet, as well
as 39 film and television versions and six ballets.
* When the 46-year-old Margot Fonteyn and 27-year-old Rudolph
Nureyev performed the premiere of Sir Kenneth Macmillan's
ballet Romeo and Juliet in 1965, they received 43
curtain calls and the safety curtain eventually had to be drawn to
force the audience to leave the theatre.
* Since the 1980s, an organisation of volunteers called Club di
Giulietta (Juliet's Club) based in Verona have been reading and
replying to thousands of letters addressed to Juliet that arrive in
the city annually. Within the city of Verona, there is a house
claiming to be the Casa di Giulietta that features a bronze statue
of Juliet in the courtyard and it is believed that rubbling the
statue's right breast (now significantly diminished after decades
of groping) will bring good luck. The house, a major tourist
attraction, also features a graffiti wall on which visitors can
write their name and the name of their loved one.
* Hugh Jackman played Romeo in a Western Australian Academy of
Performing Arts production in 1994 directed by Wayne Harrison and
performed at The Wharf.
* Natalie Portman was originally cast as Juliet in Baz Luhrmann's
film Romeo+Juliet but it was felt that the age gap between
her (15) and Leonardo Di Caprio (22) was too great, so she was
replaced by Claire Danes.
* In 2010 the Royal Shakespeare Company (together with the Mudlark
Production Company) presented a twitter version of the play called
Such Tweet Sorrow, in which actors improvised a version of
the play and interacted with their audience.
By Alex Lalak
Juliet, Drama Theatre, 17 September - 2 November, 2013.