Metropolitan Opera House, New York, NY; June 15(m), 2013   

Colleen Boresta   

“Romeo and Juliet” is a ballet which took quite a few viewings before I could really get into it. There is not much dancing in the usual ballet sense of the word. Once I realized, however, that dance can be any kind of movement set to music or even no movement at all, like Juliet sitting on her bed in Act III,  as long as it is set to music, I started to really enjoy it.

The ballet tells the familiar story of two young lovers from feuding families (the Montagues and the Capulets) in Renaissance Verona, Italy. Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s adaptation of the story is the one I have seen most frequently. It is also the one that has the ability to touch me most deeply.

Gillian Murphy and Cory Stearns were very natural, unaffected young lovers. Unfortunately, Stearns’ performance was off during Act I. He is usually a very secure partner, but he had obvious problems partnering Murphy during the ballroom pas de deux and at the beginning of the balcony pas de deux. As the balcony scene progresses, however, he found his groove. Stearns’ solo dancing was also not up to his usual standard. At one point he even put his hand down, looking as though he was trying to avoid a fall. During Acts II and III, though, his dancing, partnering and acting returned to form. He was such an innocently realistic Romeo that, especially during Act II, he actually became the character.

Murphy has long been a technically gifted dancer, but she has become a superb actress as well. Her Juliet has a very expressive face and she clearly showed the full range of Juliet’s emotions, from love to fear to sadness. Murphy also used her body to delineate Juliet’s evolution from a fourteen year old child to a young woman whose love for her husband is all encompassing.

Arron Scott was phenomenal with regard to both his dancing and his acting. His was a happy go lucky Mercutio whose leaps had great elevation and whose turns were dizzyingly exciting. I really think he should be promoted to the soloist ranks at ABT. I have never seen Luis Ribagorda before but was very impressed with his Benvolio.

Roman Zhurbin was a powerfully evil Tybalt, the real leader of the Capulet family who seems to believe that it is his duty to rid Verona of the Montague clan and all their supporters. After he killed Mercutio, he showed absolutely no remorse and immediately started to go after Romeo. His last act before he dies is to reach for his sword.

Victor Barbee was a weak and ineffective Lord Capulet, and Kristi Boone a commandingly haughty Lady Capulet who showed a mother’s grief when Tybalt was killed.