Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Roméo et Juliette has become one of the signature pieces of Pacific Northwest Ballet under the leadership of artistic director Peter Boal.
The opening night performance on Friday (Feb. 1) was greeted with standing ovations and cheers from the audience enamored of this simple but heartfelt retelling of Shakespeare’s great tale of teenage passion.
Mixing mirth with romantic longing, Maillot’s adaptation clearly revealed how youthful mischief tips over into overheated hormones and leads to tragedy.
Always outstanding, principal dancer Kaori Nakamura once again demonstrated her talent for acting as well as lyrical dancing as Juliet. From her expressive feet to her fluttering hands, she was every bit the blossoming girl overwhelmed by emotion.
As her partner in passion, James Moore brought an athletic energy to Romeo. As with Shakespeare, this Romeo begins the evening in love with Rosaline (seductively portrayed by Kylee Kitchens), only to find himself bowled over by the winsome Juliet after encountering her at a party.
As the ringleader of mischief-making in fair Verona, Jonathan Porretta’s Mercutio led the laughs right up until the teasing took a turn for disaster. Equally comic, Rachel Foster became his partner in delightful silliness as the Nurse.
Karel Cruz became the tortured conscience of the evening as the ever conflicted Friar Laurence (discussed in the video left) – while Batkhurel Bold as Tybalt and Lindsi Dec as Lady Capulet made a powerhouse couple of dark intentions.
Benjamin Griffiths, William Lin-Yee, Andrew Bartee, and Jerome Tisserand also played key roles.
But the evening belonged, as it always does in any adaptaion, to Juliet and her Romeo. From the first stunned glances at the party to moonlit rendezvous in a garden overshadowed by a balcony to that first night of passion and final farewell, this couple captured hearts as easily as they floated across the stage in each other’s arms.
At the end of the evening, Boal announced that Moore, a member of the company since 2004, was promoted to principal dancer.
Roméo et Juliette runs through February 10 at Seattle Center’s Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. More information on remaining performances is available online at pnb.org.
After the ballet closes here, PNB heads east for four performances at New York City Center including three performances of Roméo et Juliette, Feb. 15 to 16, at New York City Center. The company will also perform a selection of Balachine works on Feb. 13.
Tickets to the New York performances are available online at nycitycenter.org.