There is not much left to say about Romeo and Juliet that has not already been said: the power of romantic love, the impetuousness of youth, and the ongoing dilemma of whether to allow your children to follow their hearts at all costs. All that is left to experience with Romeo and Juliet is the feeling, and that is where Artistic Director Robert Weiss’ production begins.
Set to the lush chords of Prokofiev, Carolina Ballet’s production provides yet another rich visceral experience that serves as a joyful reminder as to how fortunate and blessed we are to have a world-class ballet company in Raleigh. The costumes, on loan from Pennsylvania Ballet, are exquisite, and the sets by Thomas Mauney are rich and substantial. Lighting by Ross Kolman and fight choreography by Jeff A.R. Jones complete and enhance the overall experience.
Sassy Pablo Javier Perez portrays Mercutio with his usual style and pizzazz. The pas de trois with Wei Ni (Benvolio) and Marcelo Martinez (Romeo) is vibrant and playful. Perez clearly relishes his role, and threatens to steal every scene. Mercutio’s death becomes unexpectedly humorous, and we are disappointed when his irreverent flame is finally extinguished.
Just when it seems there is no possible room for improvement, Margaret Severin –Hansen (Juliet) seems to get better and better. Her Juliet is sweet and lovely, and her transformation to love struck teenage girl is complete. At once achingly fragile and absolutely defiant, Hansen floats through the ballet like a dream. As my daughter’s four-year-old friend declared, “(we) want to give her a hug.” She is utterly lovable.
Martinez continues to impress. On the heels of La Sylphide, he again easily occupies the role of leading man. His Romeo is appropriately headstrong, full of swagger and style. The pas de deux with Margaret Severin-Hansen are sleek, taut and powerful, their intricate lover’s dance reminiscent of young love.
Other highlights include Attila Bongar as a stern Tybalt, Jan Burkhard as a pretty gypsy fortune teller in the Mandolin dance, and Erica Sabatini as a flirty gypsy street dancer.
Given the relative size and age of the Research Triangle, there is likely not a comparable ballet company in the United States. If there is I challenge you to show me. If you have not yet seen Carolina Ballet in action, Romeo and Juliet is a great place to start.
Carolina Ballet presents Romeo and Juliet, April 22-May 9, Fletcher Opera Theater at the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets may be purchased at Ticketmaster, 1-866-448-7849, www.ticketmaster.com or the Carolina Ballet Box office 919-719-0900, www.carolinaballet.com.