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Romeo + Juliet 2015, Cast One
Ballet in Two Acts

Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers: George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children’s Ballet Master, Dena Abergel
Orchestra, Interim Music Director, Andrews Sill
Managing Dir. Communications & Special Projects, Robert Daniels
Manager, Media Relations, Katharina Plumb
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 14, 2015 Matinee

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Guest Conductor: Paulo Paroni

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, Taylor Stanley as Romeo, Anthony Huxley as Mercutio, Aaron Sanz as Benvolio, Gonzalo Garcia as Tybalt, Maria Kowroski as Lady Capulet, Jared Angle as Lord Capulet, Gwyneth Muller as The Nurse, Russell Janzen as Paris, Ask la Cour as Friar Laurence, Joshua Thew as The Prince of Verona, and the Company as The Montagues, The Capulets, The Ballroom Guests, Juliet's Friends, and The Mandolin Dance.

I have eagerly anticipated this particular cast for months, with the ever-spirited Soloists, Erica Pereira and Taylor Stanley, in the roles of Juliet and Romeo. Peter Martins’ choreography includes luscious lifts and feverish, romantic dashes in the balcony scene, as well as extra kisses at the end of the bedroom scene, when Romeo leaves and Juliet seeks solace from Friar Laurence and his sleep potion. This intoxicating combination of scenes, added to the percussive and propulsive Dance of the Capulets for the full cast, is perhaps Mr. Martins’ pièce de résistance, among his vast, signature repertoire. Gonzalo Garcia, as Tybalt, was a bit less threatening than Amar Ramasar’s or Joaquin De Luz’ past interpretations, but Mr. Garcia remained persuasively piercing, especially after the ball, when he chases Romeo off the Capulets’ property.

Mr. Martins’ version of this renowned Shakespearean tale, so popular in ballet over the decades, in various stagings and designs, is synthesized, as a tragic tale of two young lovers. Per Kirkeby’s large, shifting set and brilliantly colorful costumes add astounding contemporary motifs. In fact, these motifs remind us of how unrequited love is an eternal tale. I appreciate the Martins version more on each viewing, even preferring it to Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s 1965 longer, traditional version. Mr. Martins encapsulates intense emotionality and transfers this psychological dimension to a physical dimension of rapturous lifts (in the impetuous balcony scene and in the deathly tomb scene.) He even has Romeo drape Tybalt’s head during his stabbing scene, which lasts longer than the viewer expects. Mercutio’s own death scene, amid clashing swords and repetitive drums, is expanded, as well, for theatrical power. Speaking of power, it should be mentioned that Guest Conductor, Paulo Paroni, and City Ballet Orchestra presented a splendid array of atonal strings and exploding timpani in searing, sensual motifs.

Each character crystallizes the percussive and propulsive Prokofiev score: Romeo carries Juliet high above his shoulders, upside down, presciently running across the stage, as if the moment will disappear; Juliet dashes to Friar Laurence (a benevolent Ask la Cour) in urgent despair, looking for a way out of her arranged marriage to Paris (a sedate Russell Janzen); Paris corners Juliet, almost demanding desire and devotion, a severity masking his sense of rejection; Tybalt broods and seethes with hatred and revenge against Romeo, and his friends; Mercutio (a mature and poignant Anthony Huxley) and Benvolio (Aaron Sanz), taunt and tease Tybalt, like torturing a bull before a bullfight; Lord Capulet (a miscast, non-dramatic Jared Angle) slaps Juliet into acquiescence; Lady Capulet (a regal, elegant Maria Kowroski) enables Lord Capulet’s abusive rants; The Nurse (Gwyneth Muller) helps Juliet marry Romeo and then crosses Juliet by assisting in the planned marriage to Paris; Friar Laurence almost rejects Juliet’s pleas for marriage to Romeo and escape from Paris; and the Prince of Verona (Joshua Thew) spreads his arms widely to quell dissent.

Anthony Huxley, as Mercutio, was a stunning surprise, with no slapstick or clownishness in the sword fights or death scene. This is an artist to watch. Mr. Martins’ choreography, once again, rivets the viewer, and the surreal sets and costumes seem even more effective every Season, with their black lines, primary color splashes, and movable parts. Rather than dark scene changes, there are seamless scenic shifts. The eye never leaves the stage, nor the dancers, nor the action.. In the Tomb, desire and longing extend beyond life, with Romeo desperately trying to wake Juliet, then Juliet desperately trying to wake Romeo. This ballet remains gripping. Kudos to Peter Martins.

Taylor Stanley as Romeo in
Peter Martins' "Romeo + Juliet"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Erica Pereira as Juliet in
Peter Martins' "Romeo + Juliet"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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