Review: “Romeo and Juliet” a Timeless Classic

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Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg and Carlos Miguel Guerra star in Miami City Ballet’s production of “Romeo and Juliet.” Credit: Daniel Azoulay

Shakespeare’s tale of star-crossed lovers, “Romeo and Juliet,” is one of the great archetypes of Western culture, inspiring countless works for stage, dance, literature, television and cinema.

Miami City Ballet revisited this moving tale, set to music by Sergei Prokofiev and choreography by John Cranko, in a grand production at Miami’s Arsht Center to open the company’s 2014-15 season.

Again borrowing rich, gorgeous costumes and sets from National Ballet of Canada, the production is a worthy successor to Miami City Ballet’s 2011 debut of the three-act work, this time under the artistic direction of Lourdes Lopez.

Prokofiev’s score is both lush and bombastic, his musical vocabulary drawing from the dissonance and fiery rhythms of the early 20th century. But, at the same time, he never forgets the syntax of the masters, framing the numbers in the classical forms of Mozart and Beethoven. Under the baton of Gary Sheldon, the Opus One Orchestra seemed to luxuriate in Prokofiev’s score, each section—brass, strings, woodwinds and percussion—coming to the fore as the music accentuated and advanced the emotional story.

Cranko’s ballet, created in 1962 for the Stuttgart Ballet, is similarly sophisticated, yet profound in its simplicity. Each individual step is masterfully matched to Prokofiev’s score, but never dilutes the storytelling. His pas de deux are intimate, fight scenes breathtaking and the large ensemble dances majestic.

Real life husband and wife Carlos Guerra and Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg repeat their roles as the doomed lovers, exuding a visceral understanding of true love and offering audiences chemistry throughout that could not be replicated by just any couple, no matter how well they danced. And, even though they are both nearly twice the age of their characters, they offer youthful, impetuous approaches to their dances.

As with so many of the great full-length ballets, the male characters dominate the story. Kleber Rebello is dashing and daunting as Mercutio, fearlessly leaping and jumping across the stage. Reyneris Reyes, as Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt, danced with spirited abandon until his untimely end. Didier Bramaz has matured into a leading man who can command attention, cast as Juliet’s suitor, Count Paris. Jovani Furlan, an extremely talented young member of the corps de ballet, lent his usual dynamic athleticism as the colorfully costume King of the Carnival.

Even though the company successfully tackled this ballet three years ago, this production feels subtly different, reflecting the changes in tone (and leadership) brought by the company’s optimistic young artistic director Lourdes Lopez.

As the company settles into the production in coming weeks at the Broward Center and Kravis Center, it will undoubtedly continue to move audiences on every emotional level as only a tragedy like “Romeo and Juliet” can.

Miami City Ballet will repeat “Romeo and Juliet” at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale, Oct. 24-26, and at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, Nov. 21-23. For tickets and show times, go to MiamiCityBallet.org.


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