ROMEO AND JULIET MESMERIZES
BY DOTTIE ASHLEY
The Post and Courier
CBT resident choreographer Jill Eathorne Bahr
decided that none of the ballet versions of
Shakespeare's classic love story, concerning
the feuding families of the Montagues and the
Capulets, ideally matched the talents and
aspirations of the CBT.
Jill Eathorne Bahr has followed in some impressive footsteps, as most balletomanes consider the two most famous ballet versions of "Romeo and Juliet" to have been choreographed by Sir Kenneth McMillan for the Royal Ballet and John Cranko for the Stuttgart Ballet. Jill Eathorne Bahr has created her most inventive, powerful choreography to date in the challenging production of "Romeo and Juliet". Now we have our own ballet version of Shakespeare's tragedy, choreographed by Bahr for the Charleston Ballet Theatre. Certainly, she passed a difficult test with excellence, judging from the mesmerizing "Romeo and Juliet" at the Sottile Theatre.
The story is faithful to Shakespeare's play. The warring Montague and Capulet families, who have long held a grudge, are furious when Juliet Capulet and Romeo Montague fall in love upon meeting at a grand masquerade ball in the Renaissance city of Verona, Italy. piece, with sumptuous costumes and the fantastic music of Serge Prokofiev, is filled with high emotions, but still retains splashes of humor, provided mainly by Stephen Gabriel as the mischievous Mercutio, Romeo's best friend.
I returned to Shakespeare for character and story development," says Bahr, who sought to define the dynamics in the Capulet household and has highlighted the relationship between Lady Capulet (Melissa Weber) and her trouble-seeking nephew, Tybalt (Matthew McKinney). If there is to be such drama over Tybalt's death, then Lady Capulet's feelings toward him must be made evident beforehand The crowd was captivated from the beginning as Escalus, Prince of Verona, introduces the two warring families, the Capulets and the Montague’s. Visiting guest dancer Jerry Burr projected a compelling presence as Escalus.
Lisa Pinkham's lighting design was no less than spectacular, as was John Claussen's set design. In all, it is a major undertaking that deserves to be seen. "You gotta be tough to dance Romeo," says Jonathan Tabbert, who will take the male lead in "Romeo and Juliet" when Shakespeare's words are set to dance by the Charleston Ballet Theatre next weekend in the Gaillard Auditorium. "The fight scenes are terribly demanding, physically and emotionally, and it's hard because not only do you lose your best friend (Mercutio) to your most hated enemy, but by the end of the third act, you also have to leave your soul mate," he adds. "This ballet transcends across the footlights." Jessica Roan, who will portray Juliet, says that acting adds another challenge to ballet. "In this role, you truly get to bring depth of character to the steps," says the dance