Disclaimer: Boston Ballet graciously provided me with complimentary tickets to Romeo & Juliet. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.
Romeo & Juliet is the latest production by Boston Ballet, and I could not be more excited about it! If you’re able to make it to Boston by April 8, you’ll want to add this one to your to-do list. (P.S. if you aren’t planning a trip to Boston until the summer, you can still catch some Shakespeare while you’re in the city with Shakespeare on the Common’s performances of Richard III, but if you can make it this spring too Romeo & Juliet is worth the trip!)
The ballet follows the story of Shakespeare’s classic love story amid a setting of talented dancers, beautiful sets immersing you right in Verona, original costume designs, and a musical score by Sergei Prokofiev.
With the classic Shakespearean tragedy of famed ‘star-crossed lovers,’ the ballet certainly has a lot to live up to in terms of storytelling, but the dancers costume designers, and musicians, make the performance easily exceed expectations.
Romeo & Juliet is one of the most popular works by choreographer John Cranko (1927-1973). Cranko (like Shakespeare!) was a master storyteller and an expert in conveying narratives within his ballets that the audience would be able to follow with ease.
While we may already be familiar with the story of Romeo & Juliet already, Cranko’s choreography still succeeds in conveying an extra layer of emotion that does not necessarily always come across from dance routines alone. This style of choreography really helps the storyline shine through with the dancing (so if you haven’t brushed up on Romeo & Juliet since your high school English class, you won’t be out of the loop!)
Cranko was also a mentor to William Forsynthe, whose choreographer you can see with Boston Ballet during Parts in Suite which runs through April 7.
In addition to the stunning dancing and choreography, Romeo & Juliet features costumes based on the original designs from the ballet’s premiere in 1962 with the Stuttgart Ballet in Germany. The details in the costume designs are incredible, but the costumes also work to show the audience who is who, as the Capulets and the Montagues each wear distinctive colors.
Romeo & Juliet is truly equal parts talented dance performance and dramatic and emotional acting that (at least for Shakespeare fans like myself) will make you feel everything you remember from the first time you read Romeo & Juliet. (And I have to admit, it’s been some time since I’ve read it. Romeo & Juliet is really what got me into Shakespeare in high school, but since then I’ve favored some of his other works so the ballet was a welcome reminder for how much I really love this play.)
Each of the dancers in this production seem so authentic and passionate about their roles to the point where the dancers portraying characters who are seldom on stage have as much enthusiasm as the principal dancers, and the whole feeling is contagious within the audience.
And while Romeo & Juliet is of course a tragedy (spoiler alert: everyone dies in the end– well, almost everyone) the production works in some humor while living up to the integrity of the original play. It’s a whirlwind of impressive ballet technique, detailed costume and set designs, and memorable acting all performed in about two and a half hours.
Tickets for Boston Ballet’s Romeo & Juliet start at just $35, and are available online at bostonballet.org, at the box office at the Boston Opera House or by calling 617-695-6955.