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New York City Ballet: Romeo + Juliet, 2008
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New York City Ballet: Romeo + Juliet, 2008

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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, Fayçal Karoui
Managing Director, Communications, Robert Daniels
Assoc. Director, Communications, Siobhan Burns
Manager, Press Relations, Joe Guttridge
New York State Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 13, 2008

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews)
(See May 12, 2007 Review)
Conductor: Fayçal Karoui

Romeo + 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, Adam Hendrickson as Mercutio, Adrian Danchig-Waring as Benvolio, Giovanni Villalobos as Tybalt, Darcy Kistler as Lady Capulet, Jock Soto as Lord Capulet, Gwyneth Muller as The Nurse, Christian Tworzyanski as Paris, Jonathan Stafford 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.

Peter Martins’ re-creation of this renowned repertory ballet is more and more enticing on each viewing, and, this season, especially captivating. I caught the Sunday matinee of Romeo + Juliet with Allen Peiffer and Erica Pereira once again in the title roles, and they are still as fresh and youthful and spontaneous as they were last season. Obviously they will mature and grow even more into these roles, and new, younger corps will be invited to re-invigorate the leads, but, for now, the experience for this viewer is still thrilling. To see Ms. Pereira tossed and thrown, lovingly and longingly, atop Mr. Peiffer’s shoulders, legs, and torso, in impassioned fervor, then carried about, turned upside down, cradled and intertwined, is truly memorable ballet, with elegant choreography meshed into the moment. Ms. Pereira looks stunningly like the teen that Juliet actually was, and Mr. Peiffer looks sharply like the adolescent that Romeo actually was. Even Adam Hendrickson, as Mercutio, and Adrian Danchig-Waring, as Benvolio, took on the adolescent aura of this literary evocation.

In the street clashes, with swords and daggers, the tension exuded split-timed, hormonal impulses, those fights one would imagine from the real-life youth of Verona in a Shakespearean time zone. Mr. Hendrickson’s fencing skills, like Mr. Danchig-Waring’s, were exemplary, and I marveled at the taut combination of theatricality and swiftness of motion. Mercutio’s death scene had the contrasting camp and pain, and the subsequent clash between Mr. Peiffer’s Romeo and Giovanni Villalobos, as Tybalt, was quite dramatic, not overly acted, more realistic and, once more, “spontaneous”. Darci Kistler and Jock Soto, the new production’s stalwarts as Juliet’s parents, have also settled into the roles, and Mr. Soto’s “slap”, in anger at Juliet’s stubborn resistance to Paris, was not so pronounced or obvious this time around.

Ms. Kistler was maternal, elegant, and appropriate, and the ballroom scene was mesmerizing, with angular-high leg extensions that spike the dark dissonance of this Prokofiev score. In fact, the entire Company was elegant in this scene, and Per Kirkeby’s versatile sets and brilliantly colored costumes vividly highlighted the intensity and contemporary approach to this briefer version of Romeo and Juliet, so different from the traditional, more drawn-out choreography of Sir Kenneth MacMillan. Mr. Martins invests in momentum, and the ballet moves seamlessly from street, to bedchamber, to ballroom, to balcony, etc., with poignancy, power, and passion, qualities so inherent in the dramatic shifts of action. Mr. Villalobos caught my eye as a new artist to watch (I have already targeted Mr. Peiffer and Ms. Pereira as ongoing artists to watch), and Gwyneth Muller, as “The Nurse” with camp, and Christian Tworzyanski, as the pale and passive Paris, added natural nuance to today’s casting.

Jonathan Stafford and Albert Evans, as respectively Friar Laurence and The Prince of Verona, were both appropriately theatrical and persuasive in their roles. Per Kirkeby and Kirsten Lund Nielsen’s creative costumes seemed all the more fascinating this year, and the NYC Ballet Orchestra, under the buoyant baton of Fayçal Karoui, was scintillating and searing in its intense interpretation of Prokofiev’s splendid score. Kudos to Peter Martins, and kudos to Maestro Karoui and to today’s cast.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at