The Joffrey appears to have taken the old saw that Mercutio’s the real star of “Romeo and Juliet” to heart, casting the dazzlingly athletic Calvin Kitten in the role while offering the phlegmatic Willy Shives as Romeo. The choice has disastrous effects in this staging of John Cranko’s version. Cranko’s choreography and Prokofiev’s alternately sublime and bombastic score already threaten to bring the action to a halt. The bane of story ballets, uninspired busywork, frequently crops up, as when Juliet’s nurse (Deborah Dawn) engages in an extended and entirely unamusing search for the proper addressee of Juliet’s letter. At times, the Joffrey delivers its trademark elegant spectacle. Juliet’s initial dance with Romeo and the ensuing melee at the Capulet party is nicely done, even if the entire party sequence goes on interminably and Shives, in his eyemask, bears an unfortunate resemblance to Burt Ward’s Robin. Maia Wilkins dances Juliet with an ethereal grace and vigor. But the pivotal balcony scene lacks chemistry, and the marriage under the fairly creepy gaze of Friar Lawrence (Adam Sklute) fails to have much impact at all. The main story ends up getting lost, yielding to the spectacular vision of Verona’s marketplace, which apparently doubles as the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.