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Romeo and Juliet


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CASTING * Subject to Change *

Romeo and Juliet:

Simon Ball & Pollyana Ribeiro: 5/8; 5/10 eve; 5/11eve; 5/16 eve; 5/18 mat

Yury Yanowsky & Adriana Suarez: 5/9; 5/11 mat; 5/15 eve; 5/17 mat;

Sarah Lamb & Sabi Varga: 5/10 mat; 5/13 eve

Paul Thrussell & Jennifer Gelfand: 5/14 eve; 5/17 eve

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Some of my thoughts on the Van Dantzig version of R&J just seen:

We saw Romeo and Juliet twice. In general, I found this version disappointing. (Many of my impressions were matched those in Jeffrey Gantz’ review in the Boston Phoenix - see Links for 5/15/03.) Rudi Van Dantzig’ production is very dark, figuratively and literally. The previous two versions Boston Ballet performed used sets by Alain Vaës. The sets were beautiful, and changed mood effectively with changed lighting. The Van Schayk sets, while clever in execution, present a bleak environment, dark and foreboding. The tomb scenery is minimal, with a single bier wheeled in poorly hidden behind people carrying a curtain. Lighting is also dark, and does not indicate the time of day or mood - unless you accept a joyless Verona. When R&J wake in J’s bed the room is dark, there is no light at the window, no indication that morning has come. Ditto on J’s wedding morning, when the bridesmaids arrive to wake her. In other versions the Montagues and Capulets are both strong houses, answering to the Duke of Verona. In this version the Capulets dominate, with the Montagues seeming to be a rag tag group and the Duke a visitor passing through. I also felt the choreography did not convey a clear story line, and there were some anomalies. In a too practical moment I found myself wondering how Juliet could enter her bedroom, where her parents and Paris are waiting for her, and not be questioned about her whereabouts and by-the-way what is in the large vial you are carrying so openly? I especially miss the drama of the final scene in the Pelzig version, with the two families entering the tomb, interweaving, finding their children, and reconciling, sealing the sense of tragedy. In this bleak version I found myself thinking R&J could be better off having escaped to the next level of existence.

Nevertheless, on the first Saturday I was very moved by the performance. We saw Pollyana Ribeiro as Juliet, Simon Ball as Romeo, Raul Salamanca took over the role of Tybalt for an injured Plotnikov, and Paul Thrussell was Mercutio. I particularly enjoyed and appreciated Ribeiro’s performance. She was very expressive, and danced beautifully, including a long passage of bourrées as she seemed to glide across the stage. I thought she conveyed the passage from innocent youth to one in love effectively. I also enjoyed Thrussell as Mercutio, though as usual the death scene for him and for Tybalt seems to go on forever. Although this was not Simon Ball’s last performance (that was this afternoon) it was the last time for us to see him, and he also will be missed.

Last night we saw Jennifer Gelfand as Juliet, Paul Thrussell as Romeo, Yury Yanowsky as Tybalt, and Jared Redick as Mercutio. I am not among Gelfand’s legion of enthusiastic fans, and did not particularly enjoy her performance. I did not find her credible as a young girl discovering love, but instead thought she was rather expressionless. Perhaps if we sat farther back.... Where Ribeiro bourréed backwards across the stage Gelfand came off point quickly, took a couple of steps to turn, and ran? jumped? I don’t remember. People sitting near us thought she was wonderful, so .... There was a special poignancy to Thrussell’s performance, and a wonderful ovation for him at the end. Aside from Thrussell the person I enjoyed most in his role was Yanowsky. He has the right sort of brooding look for Tybalt.

Though it is unlikely, I would prefer Boston Ballet returning to the Pelzig choreography, with Vaës sets, costumes and lighting from that production, etc. Meanwhile I look forward to the pleasures of next season.

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