Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Ballet Makes Superb Show on Big Screen

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Ballet Makes Superb Show on Big Screen

Article excerpt

Live streams of Metropolitan Opera performances to local movie theaters have received a lot of buzz, yet the similar but lesser- known "Ballet in Cinema" series has been largely overlooked. And that's a pity, because if the presentation of the Royal Ballet's "Romeo & Juliet" is any indication, it is well worth the drive to Bradenton, where the only participating theater in the area is showing these performances by some of the best ballet companies in the world.

I made the trip Tuesday night, wary of an announced three-hour run time after a very long work day. My hesitancy was forgotten with the first strains of Prokofiev's powerful score. This was a superb rendering of choreographer Kenneth MacMillan's first full-length work for the Royal, which debuted in 1965 and draws on the timeless love story best known from Shakespeare.

The costumes were lush, the lighting evocative, the story powerful and the staging, by Monica Mason, natural. It was hard to tell which came first, the music or the choreography, so perfectly aligned are MacMillan's steps to the qualities of the score. That kind of setup calls for remarkable dancing, and it's unlikely any company could have provided better. Lauren Cuthbertson has probably ruined the role of Juliet for anyone who tries to come after. As a young girl moving from first love to ultimate tragedy, she was believeable in every way, from her coltish, exuberant runs, to her subtly nuanced facial expressions. The three pas de deux she shares with her boyish Romeo, Franco Bonelli -- reflecting the lovers' journey from first meeting (on the balcony), to consummation (in the bedroom), to final tragedy (in the tomb) -- had a musicality and fluidity all too often missing when there is, as there was also here, technical flawlessness. The rest of the cast was equally polished and assertive of character; I forced myself to look away from the principals to assess the corps action, and found not a single instance of lapse of character or less than full-out execution. …

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