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New York City Ballet: Romeo + Juliet, Cast II
- Onstage with the Dancers

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New York City Ballet
Romeo + Juliet
(NYC Ballet Website)

Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children's Ballet Master, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Fay├žal Karoui
Communications, Managing Director, Robert Daniels
Assoc. Director, Communications, Siobhan Burns
Manager, Press Relations, Joe Guttridge
New York State Theater, Lincoln Center
www.lincolncenter.org


by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
May 12, 2007
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com

Conductor: David Briskin



Romeo and Juliet (2007): Based on the Play by William Shakespeare, Music by Sergei Prokofiev, Choreography by Peter Martins, Scenery by Per Kirkeby, Costumes by Per Kirkeby and Kirstin Lund Nielsen, Costumes supervised by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Technical design by Perry Silvey, Fight scenes staged in association with Rick Washburn and Nigel Poulton, Performed by Erica Pereira as Juliet, Allen Peiffer as Romeo, Daniel Ulbricht as Mercutio, Antonio Carmena as Benvolio, Craig Hall as Tybalt, Darcy Kistler as Lady Capulet, Jock Soto as Lord Capulet, Gwyneth Muller as The Nurse, Jonathan Stafford as Paris, Ask la Cour as Friar Laurence, Albert Evans as The Prince of Verona, and the Company as The Montagues, The Capulets, The Ballroom Guests, Juliet's Friends, and The Mandolin Dance. Dedicated to Howard Solomon.

On second viewing of this avant-garde production of a renowned and popular ballet, "wonder" and "design" caught my attention. Wonder was the expression in the faces and personas of the two leads, Erica Pereira, a City Ballet apprentice, as Juliet, and Allen Peiffer, a corps member, as Romeo. Their theatrical interpretations were fresh, authentic, and spontaneous, so exciting to experience. For years we have enjoyed bravura performances of ballerinas as Juliet, at all stages of their career (Remember Margot Fonteyn?), and we cherish those memories for seasoned star power and stamina. However, when Ms. Pereira and Mr. Peiffer became human magnets for each other at the Capulet Ball, and later at the Capulet balcony, the chemistry and youthful abandon were palpable and powerful. The casual stance of Mr. Peiffer, prior to catapulting himself with a windy cape, and the conflicted, yet innocent trust of Ms. Pereira, as she bent backward along her Romeo's shoulders, in fast motion, all arms free, were an astounding example of generational identification with roles. Peter Martins deserves kudos for creating this sense of wonder.

Design was the Matisse-like selection of lines and squiggles that emanated from the gowns of the Capulets (such as yellow, maroon, white, orange) and matched the lines and squiggles in the painted backdrops, stage frames, and even the multi-purpose curtained set. The blood red design that opens the tragic tale becomes grey-black, but later springs yellow curtains for Romeo and Juliet's trysts. Craig Hall, in sunlit yellow, however, is the opposite of sunny, a brooding, demonic, possessive and possessed figure, the embodiment of angst. Design was also the almost matching costumes of Jock Soto, in his onstage return as Lord Capulet, in artistic navy/red hat, cape, outfit, that compliments that of Darci Kistler, as Lady Capulet, who is almost always in his company and under his command. She seems to have a navy/red hat, dress, cape, all regal Veronese. Design was also the bright blue, green, and purple costumes of Romeo, Mercutio, and Benvolio. Per Kirkeby deserves kudos for this sense of design.

My attention was also drawn to "the slap", that watershed moment when our beloved Jock Soto, who retired a couple of years ago, but continued teaching at School of American Ballet, strikes down his daughter, Juliet, for not obeying his command to be courted and wed by the bland and boring Paris (suitably portrayed by the newly promoted soloist, Jonathan Stafford). That slap should have been avoided. The stark silence that followed increased dramatic and audience tension. Nevertheless, Mr. Soto is always a treat and may have retired too soon. He exudes charisma and class. Another class act, Ask la Cour, was a soulful and troubled Friar Laurence, visibly moved at the failure of his intervention and at the wasted war of the clans. Craig Hall, as Tybalt, was clearly out for the kill, that of Romeo and his two companions.

Daniel Ulbricht, in a repeat performance as Mercutio, seems to be made of the stuff that should be marketed and sold by City Ballet. I'd love to know what vitamins give him the superhuman capacity to propel his legs and hips mid-air, like a flying machine. Mr. Ulbricht, a new principal, is an extraordinary presence in any cast and riveting to watch at each production. Even stage side, he continues the role with mime and motion. Albert Evans, also magnetic and powerful, was again The Prince of Verona. He could tame lions with a stare and the pointing of his white glove. Thus, he tamed sword-fighting youths. Speaking of sword fights, Weapons Specialist, Ltd. deserves kudos for the realistic and split-timed fencing and falling that occurred in several scenes. Nobody missed. Antonio Carmena, as Benvolio, exuded energy, wit, and technical precision, while Gwyneth Muller, as The Nurse, and like Friar Laurence, exuded pathos and pain in the final scenes. Darci Kistler, as Lady Capulet, was graceful, stylish, and seemingly controlled by the patriarchy of her world.

David Briskin kept mood and music driven and edgy, with enormous shifts in volume and effects. In fact, the percussion was persuasively thunderous, and the strings created just the tones for avant-garde aesthetic. The Company was splendid in ballroom and street scenes. Mark Stanley's front spotlights enabled the background sets to remain hidden, then revealed, in numerous incarnations. Kudos to William Shakespeare, and kudos to Sergei Prokofiev.

Erica Pereira and Allen Peiffer in NYCB's Romeo + Juliet

Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik


Erica Pereira and Allen Peiffer in NYCB's Romeo + Juliet

Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

 

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net