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Pacific Northwest Ballet

'The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet'

Not Stepless in Seattle

by Dean Speer

September 25, 2004 -- McGaw Hall, Seattle

A reviewer in the local Seattle print media headlined that there was everything in Kent Stowell’s robust version of this balletic adaption of Shakespeare’s tale but, “... ah, dancing.” I have to strongly disagree and I think this is one of those cases where it looks as if two different people were at two different shows.

Music Director Stewart Kershaw put together a score from lesser- and little-known Tchaikovsky that as a whole really does work together to create the right kind of atmosphere and musical catalyst for Stowell’s vision of how to play out this famous story.

The largest dance scenes are in Act I, although there is PLENTY of dancing for Act II as well. I think the difference is that Act II contains scenes that are more intimate in scale and really zing the drama along, like Juliet’s decision to take the sleeping potion and the rush of events that cascade down from that. The only group dance in this act is of the young girls who come in on what’s supposed to be Juliet’s wedding morning to Paris, only to find that she’s dead – or so they think.

I like Stowell’s handling of the bier scene in the mausoleum. In some versions, Romeo comes in with the rest of the mourners, disguised as one of them. Not here. Romeo comes passionately running in as if he had heard the news from great distance and is wearing his grief of her presumed death only to encounter Paris, swiftly dispatching him.

Kaori Nakamura and Olivier Wevers as the tragic pair were simply and wonderfully amazing. Perhaps it may be that they used to be married to each other and that their own, personal ups and downs were being played out here, but their depth and level of acting, particularly from Wevers, was gut-wrenching.

Stowell’s vision and version of this ballet serves the Company very well and is a visual – and kinetic -- treasure with AMPLE dancing!

Edited by Jeff.

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