ROMEO AND JULIET
July 8, 2016
Earlier in the season, James Whiteside proved a gallant and attentive partner to Veronica Part. When paired with Isabella Boylston in Romeo and Juliet, there was less chemistry and more concentration on the actual steps. Choreographed by Sir Kenneth MacMillan to the heart-thumping score by Sergei Prokofiev, the male roles are extremely demanding requiring assured multiple turns, leaps that spread into dead stops and fleet footed passages. On top of that, there are those tricky sword and fight scenes that could use stunt-doubles.
In the telling of Shakespeare’s tragedy of star-crossed lovers, MacMillan stages a number of large group scenes that can drag. There’s ton’s of detail that a camera might capture, townspeople in the background chatting, flirting, but for the audience the staging sags.
Although the two great love duets between Romeo and Juliet, lovers falling breathlessly into each others’ arms, only to rise in exaltation are extracted for galas, some of the meatiest choreography goes to Romeo and Mercutio (Danil Simkin) as well as Benvolio (Calvin Royal III) and Tybalt (Patrick Ogle). Camaraderie, a key ingredient uniting the three Montague fellows, was muted. Royal’s strong personality guided his interpretation but like Simkin, who whizzes through the knotty turn and leaps, they embraced the audience instead of each other.
The desperate love at the heart of this production grows by the end. Boylston’s enthusiasm undermines expressions of vulnerability and in the balcony scene; Whiteside and Boylston rush through the choreography, skipping over the throbbing passion. However, their amour grows by the final bedroom scene.
Charles Barker conducted the well-calibrated orchestra.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis