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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Romeo and Juliet (Arts Centre Melbourne) - 120 minutes plus two intervals

After a 19-year hiatus, the emotion charged, highly acclaimed production of Romeo and Juliet by choreographer John Cranko takes centre stage at Arts Centre Melbourne.

It has power, passion and playfulness and introduces a new generation of The Australian Ballet dancers.

They are headlined by Callum Linnane and Sharni Spencer in the lead roles on opening night.

Photos by Jeff Busby and Rainee Lantry

In short, Romeo and Juliet is a knockout.

The virtuosity and engagement in the performances make this a night to savour.

Sergei Prokofiev’s magnificent score, created in 1935, which lays out the story of young love and tragedy, is as masterful as it gets. It is timeless and beautiful.

Guest conductor Jonathan Lo brings out the best of Orchestra Victoria.

The opening, with the carefully choreographed sword fighting in the marketplace in Verona, sets the scene for the tumult to follow.

The feud between the Montagues and the Capulets is on full display as the star-crossed young lovers fight for the right to be together … forever.

Linnane’s strength and dexterity is the perfect counterpoint to Spencer’s grace. They are outstanding together.

Adam Bull impresses as the hot-headed Tybalt, as does Brett Chynoweth as the volatile Mercutio.

There is also a certain strut about the noble Paris (Christopher Rodgers-Wilson), the man chosen for Juliet to wed.

I appreciated the fussiness of Terese Power as Juliet’s beloved nurse and loyal companion.

There is much light and shade in this production of Romeo and Juliet, which plays out with two intervals.

The celebratory environment in the marketplace at the start of Act II is a case in point.

There is merriment aplenty with colourful, harlequin-like costuming, handclapping and tomfoolery.

That, of course, is the sharpest of contrasts to the angst and heartbreak that brings this classical work to its inevitable conclusion.

The balcony scene is tender and passionate.

Jurgen Rose’s costume and set designs delight.

In short, if there is one ballet you need to see, it is Romeo and Juliet – an enthralling experience.

It is playing at the State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne until 19th October and moves to the Sydney Opera House from 1st to 21st December, 2022.


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