Queensland Ballet’s Romeo & Juliet.
Choreography by Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s. Featuring the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.
Conductor Nigel Gaynor. Composer Sergei Prokofiev. Lyric Theatre QPAC. Brisbane.
Romeo & Juliet: A Triumph
By Douglas Kennedy.
The Queensland Ballet’s 2019 production of Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s classic 1964 version of Romeo & Juliet is a triumph of theatre and dance.
When QB presented the show back in 2014 the season broke a 54-year-old box office record for the company and launched a golden period in the company’s modern history, under the watch of artistic director Li Cunxin.
Now it’s back more robust, most confident and more complete that ever before with a team that’s at the top of its game.
The Sunday matinee this reviewer saw featured Victor Estevez and Laura Hidalgo dancing the roles of Romeo & Juliet to perfection, but then the whole cast and crew were nothing sort of spectacular.
Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev created the score back in 1935 for an early production that demanded a happy Romeo & Juliet ending to suit Dictator Joseph Stalin’s taste in theatre.
However, Sir Kenneth MacMillan reworked the ballet in the early 1960s and gave it a new lasting lease of life.
When Li Cunxin brought the production to Brisbane five years ago the calls for another season began immediately and have been continuing ever since.
“MacMillan’s Romeo & Juliet is certainly considered one of the premiere versions of this classical
Ballet and Queensland Ballet is only one of a few ballet companies in the world that has the rights to perform this work,” Mr Li said on the eve of its opening.
“We are the only Australian ballet company that has been endorsed by the Macmillan Trust to
Perform R&J and we stand alongside internationally-renowned companies like the American Ballet
Theatre and The Royal Ballet as the companies entrusted with this acclaimed production.
“When we first performed this production in 2014, we brought out a raft of international ballet stars
Including Carlos Acosta, Tamara Rojo and Steven McRae to supplement our dancer numbers and to take on the lead roles.
“This year I’m proud to say, Queensland Ballet can stand on its own and deliver
A world class performance of this demanding production.
“Our company has seen remarkable growth over the last five years in both our dancer numbers and
The standard of our dancing to the point that we are able to take on the biggest and most Demanding of ballet productions readily.”
Romeo & Juliet was the first three act ballet that MacMillan created and when it premiered in 1965
the title roles were controversially given to superstars Rudolph Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn, despite being created for other dancers.
At its opening night, audiences were so overcome by the production that the dancers received 43
Curtain calls, with the audience eventually having to be persuaded to leave the theatre, and it has continued to wow ballet go-ers ever since.
Sir Kenneth’s Widow Lady Deborah MacMillan (an established artist in her own right as a painter and set designer) was in Brisbane recently for the season’s opening night.
“This is just such a magnificent ballet that wonderfully weaves through Shakespeare’s classic tale of tragic loss, waring families and young love with incredible sets, sumptuous costumes and engaging Characters,” said Mr Li.
Among the former QB dancers coming back to the stage for this production in character roles are Rachael Walsh, Christian Tátchev, Zenia Tátcheva and Matthew Lawrence as well as Steven Heathcote, Ballet Master for The Australian Ballet, whose daughter Mia Heathcote is a Soloist with QB.
The sell-out season of Romeo & Juliet continues until September 7 at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC.
For more information visit www.queenslandballet.com.au
The company in Queensland Ballet’s Romeo & Juliet.
Photo © David Kelly