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PNB's Romeo and Juliet

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PNB has not posted the casting on its website yet. This is unusual being this close to the opening on 1/31, so I called to check it out. I was informed that the cast posting is late because of changes to the cast required due to injuries. They didn't say when the casting decisions would be made, but suggested to keep looking at the website.

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RM Campbell wrote a preview in today's Seattle P-I. There's a nice rehearsal photo with, I think, Noelani Pantastico and James Moore.


Edited to add: The casting is now up:


Pantastico is dancing Juliet in all but one performance, in which there is a guest artist, who also staged the work, Bernice Coppieters. Postlewaite is Pantastico's partner for week one, and James Moore in week two. Postlewaite partners Coppieters at the Saturday, 9 February matinee.

Jonathan Poretta performs all of the Mercutios, Benjamin Griffiths all of the Benvolios, and Maria Chapman all of the Rosalines.

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[Admin note: topics merged]

Casting is up for the two week run at

romeo casting

Noelani Pantastico will dance Juliette for all but one of the performances (Carla Korbes sustained an injury and had to back out) Jonathan Poretta is Mercurtio for all the shows, and most of the other main roles only have two people cast -- a shift from previous policy where several people would get a chance at a part.

Bernice Coppieters is dancing Juliette for the 2/9 matinee. She originated the role and is supposed to be stunning in it -- worth the fuss to see, even if you have to miss the Democratic caucus.

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I'm am extremely thankful to have been there for this very special opening night.

Gorgeous choreography, sets, costumes, lighting and performances - Noelani Pantastico and Lucien Postlewaite were perfection. What artistry in two so young!

I admired the performances of gorgeous Louise Nadeau (Lady Capulet), frightening Olivier Wevers (Friar Laurence), ruffian Jonathan Porretta (Mercutio), beaming and acrobatic Benjamin Griffiths (Benvolio), gigantic Casey Herd (Tybalt), striking and unforgettable Jodie Thomas (The Nurse) and 2 times gorgeous Maria Chapman (Rosalind).

Through the generosity of my boss and Mr. Boal I got to watch PNB school classes all day Wednesday, more classes (including company class) on Thursday and then Romeo et Juliette Thursday evening.

PNB and Jean-Christophe Maillot's Romeo et Juliette seem to be a perfect match. Porretta in conversation with Boal after the performance talked about how this work stretched the artists of PNB. Mr. Boal said that Maillot having seen many dancers in the role of Mercutio thought that in Porretta he may have found the best. Mr. Porretta's mother was in attendance as Mr. Boal said having commuted in from the east coast.

At the post performance Q & A Peter Boal said that he had seen the ballet at City Center when he was in his twenties and that it remains in the top ten theatre experiences of his life. I thank him for sharing this art!

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"It took me back to a first love defined by scent and touch, run by a wild heart that a chest could hardly contain....."

So says Peter Boal in his program notes. Amen.

I hardly know what to say having seen Jean-Christophe Maillot's "Romeo et Juliette" last night. Like Boal, I was taken back to my late teens when passion was everything; when discovery of touching another's inner being, all the while being supercharged by for-real sexual awakenings, makes one's life a game where you now must play for keeps. It was a night I won't soon forget.

It's Prokofiev's score I kept telling myself as tears welled up time and time again, but too it was Maillot's choreography, so brilliantly danced, that took me by the hand (hands are important in this ballet) and showed me how all of Shakespeare's play is there in that music -- every event, every emotion, almost every word.

If you are a PNB fan, don't miss this production. Our company has taken yet another quantum leap under Peter Boal's leadership. Even Maillot himself proclaimed his pleasure (in the Q&A after the performance Boal said that Maillot's stagers called him in Europe and told him he had to fly out because "you've got to see this"). He told Boal on the way to the airport after the success of opening night that PNB found the spirit of his ballet like no other company, other than his, has ever done. Our dancers swallowed his vision whole and rose to heights of artistry that must have astounded not only themselves but Boal and Maillot as well. I have never felt more proud of this company. Magic is happening here in the rainy northwest.

The casting was perfect. I have never seen a ballet at PNB where every character was so perfectly cast. Neolani Pantasico so became Juliette last night that there was nothing left of her but a shell to take the uproarious standing ovation. I've heard the expression "out of body experience"; well, I think I saw one of those last night. Brava Noe. I hate to just list names and parts but one just can't say enough about how Porretta nailed Mercutio; or how Postlewaite used his massive dramatic talent to throw his every emotion my way; or how about that Casey Herd!......he's a terrifically talented and powerful principal dancer, but I've never seen him dominate a role as he did the malevolent Tybalt. Louise Nadeau gave us grief incarnate with an electrifing performance as Lady Capulet. I'll stop now even though I could go on and on about every single dancer in every single part, but before I do, I have to mention the brilliance that Olivier Wevers brought to the crucial role of Friar Laurence. In this production of R&J, the Friar is no incidental plot device. Maillot tells the familiar story as a sort of anguish of memory in the Friar's mind as he attempts to deal with the tragedy, and his responsibility for enabling it in spite of his best intentions. Oliver's Edvard-Munch-like screams of horror penetrated into every soul in that crowded house last night.

I didn't go last night expecting to love this piece. I had seen the dress rehearsal 2 nights before and couldn't decide whether I loved it or hated it. As Doug Fullington said just before the performance "That's the beauty of an audience, you get to decide." Well, I decided all right: I love this ballet, and I love this company doing this ballet, and I love the new balletic landscape Maillot's contemporary choreography opened up to me. I didn't "get it" the first time, but I sure did once the dancers threw caution to the wind for a "real" performance before a "real" audience. I'll never see dance the same again.

P.S. I couldn't agree more with glebb's comments above. Apparently I wasn't the only one who found themselves transported to the sublime by this production.

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I also saw R&J on opening night--a stunning, beautiful performance that won't leave me for a very long time. :speechless-smiley-003::clapping:

The costumes, sets, and choreography are all not nearly as "literal" as most other productions. No period costumes here, and the sets consist of moving white panels, a ramp, a triangular wedge, and ingenious lighting. Neither Romeo nor Juliette die with literal motions of taking the poison or stabbing themselves.

Nevertheless, this R&J felt more "real" than any other that I've seen. I cannot recall the last time I was so affected by a performance. I noticed that many people in the audience left with tears.

If you have the opportunity to see a performance, run, don't walk, to the box office! This R&J is really, really special.

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This R&J felt more "real" than any other that I've seen. I cannot recall the last time I was so affected by a performance.

Ditto and ditto.

I've been thunderstuck all day.....so much so that I just got off the phone having purchased tickets for my wife and myself to go again tonight, and for a third time next Friday to see "the other cast" (Miranda Weese as this Lady Capulet is something I've got to see).

A word of warning to any would be "go'ers" out there.......for both these other nights, the only way I could get non-nosebleed seats was to get single seats and separate us. You better get tickets now if you are thinking of going.

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Re: Rosemary Ponnekanti's review in the The News Tribune (Tacoma)


Who are the "pratfalling henchmen" to whom she refers? Tybalt and Mercutio? She can't possibly mean Friar Lawrence's two attendants...

I think Ponnekanti captured the essense of this production, except however her last paragraph....on which I couldn't disagree more. Yes, she does mean that the "pratfalling henchmen" are Friar Laurence's acolytes. She says the 3 of them "get tiresome". Friar Laurence tiresome?? My God, Friar Laurence is the backbone of this visionary production, and arguably the more exciting part in the ballet. If the reviewer didn't get that, I don't know how she got so much of the rest right.

Much later edit: I don't know what happened here. The msg I responded to here is now missing; as are some of my words in this reply. It seems someone is editing stuff without any notice. Perhaps there is another explanation; I hope so, because nothing pisses me off more than unannounced censorship.

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Since the Friar's irresponsible actions are very much to blame in the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, I for one loved this telling of his story.

And - the choreographic passages and performances of the acolytes and Laurence were mesmerizing.

Nothing was tiresome. Quite the contrary!

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According to Peter Boal at yesterday matinee's post-performance Q&A, Noelani Pantastico will dance Juliette in all performances. He said that there was a visa issue and that Coppieters would not perform next weekend. Carla Korbes, who was also cast as Juliette, has a back injury.

The matinee next Saturday is an added performance, and this means Pantastico will dance five performances of the work in four days. Considering how drained she looked at the curtain call of yesterday's performance, this will be a Herculean feat.

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Pantastico will dance five performances of the work in four days. Considering how drained she looked at the curtain call of yesterday's performance, this will be a Herculean feat.

Too bad about Coppieters.....I was hoping to go and see her in this amazing Juilette role.

As far as Pantasico goes.....she will handle it. She was already prepared to do 8 of the 9 performances once Carla Korbes had to drop out last Tuesday (just the day before the dress rehearsal :clapping:). Everyone I've talked to says that Neolani is a trooper, and if anyone can do it, it is she. The killer has to be doing both the matinee and the evening performances on Saturdays. I know she can handle that too because I saw her do it last night! She was magnificent in spite of the unbelievable task of doing that role essentially 3 times in 24 hours (Friday evening (7:30), Saturday Matinee (2:00), and then again Saturday evening (7:30)).

Yes, she is drained after the performance, but I say not from physical exhaustion, but from emotional exhaustion. I doubt I've ever seen any ballet dancer put as much emotional energy into any role as Neolani does here. I believe this to be the apex of her career. What she does with this ballet, in this part, is a once in a lifetime thing. I believe on some level she knows this and she will reach down and find whatever she has to.

This ballet demands that the dancers truly act and become the character -- much as they would if it were a play. Noe IS Juliette while she is up there -- the transformation is electrifying. There is no Noe on that stage, there is only Juliette. Juliette falls in love for the first time, only to discover him dead, and then finds the courage to follow him into death. Noelani isn't performing that, it is actually happening to her. I've seen it. I still can't believe it.

Frankly, my prediction is that Noe will just get better and better as next week plays out. I've never been so motivated to see a ballet. I've seen it 3 times already and have tickets for twice more. I will see her last performance on 2/10 -- a Sunday matinee and she will have just done it twice the day before! I sincerely expect that last performance to be her best in spite of exhaustion. These 2 weeks will not be forgotten: not only by Neolani Pantasico, but by every member of the company, as well as the audience. I'm here to say that this run of Maillot's R&J done by PNB with Noelani as Juliette is an historic event in the world of dance.....and I don't care how far I stick my neck out on that!!

As a woman at the Q&A said last night: "This was the most moving theatrical experience of any kind in my life". I have to agree with her.

P.S. I haven't sat relatively far from the stage (and I don't plan to), so I can't say it for a fact, but to get the full impact of this production, I think one must sit relatively close......as if it were a play. One needs to see the expressions on the faces and the subtle hand movements. This production is as much about acting, maybe more so even, than it is about dancing.

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