At times the cast seemed to move and breathe in one complex yet elegant organic whole.
Tamara Rojo and Matthew Lawrence. Image by David Kelly.
Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet Gala opening at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre by Queensland Ballet was an outstanding success. This incredible production is a profound milestone for the Queensland Ballet: a not-to-be missed classic event for cultural enthusiasts and new audiences alike.
The production is led by Artistic Director Li Cunxin (internationally acclaimed dancer and autobiographer of Mao’s Last Dancer) who was recently appointed to the Queensland Ballet in 2012.
The impressive set design and costumes on loan from the Birmingham Royal Ballet, designed by Paul Andrews (Merchant of Venice, Sound of Music, West Yorkshire Playhouse) provides a visual feast of renaissance character that imbues the work with a depth of sensuality throughout. Rich textures, fabrics hues and colors create a luxurious experience for the viewer.
I was taken aback by the opulence of the whole production, as were other audience members who frequently vocalized their delight through various acts. The scene in the market place heralded a spectacular sword fight between the Montagues and Capulets whereby the cast seemed to move and breathe in one complex yet elegant organic whole. Hundreds of gestures dramatizing the large scale scene invoked an incredible atmosphere.
The powerful introduction to the house of Capulet also summoned a sense of world class finesse that delivered an intense dialogue of the magnificence of story and place in this Shakespearean tale.
Guest star performer Tamara Rojo (Director and Principal Dancer of the English National Ballet) was seamless, the perfect Juliet whose subtlety and grace endeared you to her character. The technical prowess and sensitivity of her solos were divine. Rojo eloquently depicted the innocence and beauty of the role complementing Matthew Lawrence’s (Principal Dancer Queensland Ballet) Romeo.
The expressive talent of Lawrence (Romeo) for new found love was uplifting and vibrant, rendering the audience captive. The deep and intimate joy of the lovers meeting and subsequent pas de deux throughout the show shined.
Romeo’s friends Mercutio (Daniel Gaudiello) and Benvolio’s (Rian Thompson) performances were stand out, offering the very best in narrative ballet. Tybalt (Vito Bernasconi) also gave a stunning performance.
Other highlights throughout the production included whole ensemble sequences of jubilant revelry and great grief among the major and minor characters of fair Verona in which whores and peasant-women flirted and provoked while noblemen and ladies danced and sojourned.
The musical aspect of the evening was remarkable, Prokofiev’s score is respectfully executed by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra headed by Music Director and Principal Conductor Andrew Mogrelia.
The Lyric Theatre provided a perfect venue for this wonderful production.
I highly recommend this outstanding production to Shakespeare lovers, ballet lovers and lovers of all kinds.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Romeo & Juliet
Queensland Ballet and Queensland Symphony Orchestra
Artistic Director: Li Cunxin
Music Director and Principal Conductor: Andrew Mogrelia
Lighting Designer: John B Read
Cast includes: Tamara Rojo, Matthew Lawrence, Daniel Gaudiello, Rian Thompson, Vito Bernasconi
Lyric Theatre, QPAC Brisbane
27 June - 5 July
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What the stars mean?
- Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
- Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
- Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
- Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
- Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
- Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
- Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
- One star: Awful, to be avoided
- Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level