John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet: Boston Ballet’s Shakespeare

Dating in 1595

Sabi Varga, Misa Kuranaga, and Nelson Madrigal in John Cranko's Romeo & Juliet; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy Boston Ballet
Sabi Varga, Misa Kuranaga, and Nelson Madrigal in John Cranko’s Romeo & Juliet; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy Boston Ballet

John Cranko’s Romeo & Juliet performed by Boston Ballet is hardly new, but it is anything but dated.  The world premiere of the ballet was performed by the Stuttgart Ballet in 1962.  Boston Ballet’s premiere of John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet was 2008, and here we are a decade later and it is as fresh as the buns that Joanne Chang and crew bake daily for Flour Bakery.

Romeo texts Juliet
Romeo texts Juliet.

 

Okay maybe not so contemporary that there are Instagram filter and text messages, but you get my point.  John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet was fresh and fun.  Jared Bowen even described it as technicolor.  I don’t know if it is the new costumes, or maybe it is just that Cranko’s choreography really was ahead of its time, or some combination of it all.

Classic Shakespeare Tragedy

The story is of course William Shakespeare’s famous tragedy Romeo and Juliet.  He loves her.  She loves him.  Their families are feuding and the dislike is as fierce between the families as the love is intense between Romeo and Juliet.  It doesn’t end well.  So you know the story. You read it in school.  Your children will be starting Shakespeare some day soon and will also read it in school.  What better way to get ahead of the game then to see the ballet.  Not everyone understands Shakespeare’s words and blank verse is met with blank stares.  If a child can see the story played out on stage in the ballet then they will make a whole lot more sense when they open the books in class.

The ballet opens with a sword fight, food fight and some partying so John Cranko has you hooked from the opening.  Boston Ballet dancer’s have you captivated until the curtain drops.  The sword fighting was impressive as were the duets between Romeo and Juliet.  Large party scenes that included many members of the company swept you beyond Boston and right into the action in Verona.

See It for Spring

If your family is in town for Passover or Easter, an afternoon or evening out to see Romeo and Juliet is perfect for those who have outgrown hunting for eggs or matzoh.  As my kids get older, I have found that the things we connect with most together are outing as a family.  The activity can be something as unique as a hike in Japan, or as simple as baking from a book we just checked out from the library.  It can be the movie or show we all saw and then the soundtrack becomes the soundtrack of our lives in that moment (I’m talking about you Waitress The Musical and The Greatest Showman).  It can be a book we listened to and fell in love with on car rides around town (the Phantom Tollbooth read by David Hyde Pierce and A Wrinkle in Time read by Madeleine L’Engle herself).  We are lucky to live in a city that has performances for all ages and all price points.  Start small with a performance and outing once in a while, and then make it a regular family outing.

Misa Kuranaga and Nelson Madrigal in John Cranko's Romeo & Juliet; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy Boston Ballet
Misa Kuranaga and Nelson Madrigal in John Cranko’s Romeo & Juliet; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy Boston Ballet

Misa Kuranaga as Juliet and Paolo Arrais as Romeo were to die for (literally).  Spoiler alert:  They both die at the end..well not the dancers but the characters they play.  Boston Ballet’s performance of Romeo and Juliet begins with plenty of levity and life, but that doesn’t mean that tears don’t find their way to the corners of your eyes by the end.  The dancers transport you into the story and have you reflecting on loves loved and loss.

When and Where?

John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet by Boston Ballet is playing through April 8th.  Remaining performances are:

  • Thursday, March 29th 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 31st 1:30 & 7:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, April 4th 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, April 6th 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 7th 1:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 8th 1:30 p.m.

All performances are held at the Boston Opera House. Tickets begin at $35 and can be purchased online or call 617.695.6955

 

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