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Romeo & Juliet Suite - Sydney Opera House (NSW)

Presented by L.A. Dance Project. Choreographed by Benjamin Millepied


This is Shakespeare in high definition that offers visual treats that conquer the might of Vivid outside the Opera House doors.


Reviewed by Justin Clarke

Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House

Until 9th June, 2024


Navigating between the worlds of dance, theatre and cinema, Benjamin Millepied’s Romeo & Juliet Suite brings Shakespeare’s timeless tale to life in a unique interpretation that is equal parts breathtaking in its choreography as it is visually stunning.


Choreographed by Millepied and set to Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet composition, there are moments that are an absolute feast for the senses as the L.A Dance Project offers a new vision of the star-crossed lovers told through a rotating cast of five leads. Daphne Fernberger and David Adrian Freeland Jr take on the role of Romeo, whilst Mario Gonzalez, Nayomi Van Brunt and Audrey Sides embody their version of Juliet in alternate pairings. In doing so, Millepied brings a modern vision to the idea of the doomed lovers, told through a contemporary lens that defies expectations, whilst also alluding to the traditional performance rules in Shakespeare’s patriarchal England. 


Romeo & Juliet Suite, Sydney Opera House (2024). Images by Daniel Boud


As much a part of the show as the dancers are is Sebastien Marcovici’s live camera operation that takes the audience into the screen and outside the walls of the Joan Sutherland Theatre. This is Shakespeare in high definition and Millepied and Marcovici spare no expense in putting their amalgamation of technology and choreography to good use.


The famous balcony scene takes place, quite literally, on the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House’s “balcony”. In tonight’s performance, Gonzalez’s Juliet falls in love with Freeland Jr’s Romeo in the shadowy moonlight of the Opera House, the Sydney skyline glistening in the background lit up with the celebratory hues of Vivid. 


It’s a stunning sequence that had the audience in amused giggles as the pair flirtatiously jumped and glided around the foyer outside the theatre and eventually into the forecourt, where their youthful innocence turns to a dance of lust and love. The pair are only ever in danger of being upstaged by a rogue seagull who must have also been spellbound by the dance sequence occurring.


Millipied’s choreography tells the story of Shakespeare’s lovers vividly in the extravagance and subtlety of the movements.

François-Pierre Couture’s lighting design brings the language of antithesis in Shakespeare’s script to the stage, with overhead shots that jump between dark hues of red, bright oranges and shades of black. The Capulet’s party scene is ominous enough to foreshadow the lover’s forbidden relationship and the stark contrasts of shapes utilised by the performers’ bodies highlights their star-crossed romance.


Millipied’s choreography tells the story of Shakespeare’s lovers vividly in the extravagance and subtlety of the movements. For those familiar with the beats of the story - forbidden love, love at first sight, Mercutio’s death, Tybalt’s death, Romeo’s exile, and a tragic ending - the story will be easy to follow along throughout. Those who didn’t study Romeo & Juliet in Year 9 English will need to focus a lot deeper on the movements and interactions of the story. Thankfully the intertwining of videography and choreography make this a piece to not be afraid to tackle for even the most unfamiliar with dance like myself. 


Romeo & Juliet Suite has a short run and offers just as much visual appeal as the bright lights of the harbour illuminated outside the doors.


 

L.A. Dance Project’s Romeo and Juliet Suite makes its Australian premiere in a strictly limited exclusive season at the Sydney Opera House from June 5-9.


Wednesday 5 June 7:30pm and Saturday 8 June 2:00pm

Romeo: David Adrian Freeland, Jr

Juliet: Mario Gonzalez


Thursday 6 June 7:30pm and Saturday 8 June 7:30pm

Romeo: Daphne Fernberger

Juliet: Nayomi Van Brunt


Friday 7 June 7:30pm and Sunday 9 June 3:30pm

Romeo: David Adrian Freeland, Jr

Juliet: Audrey Sides


All performances

Tybalt: Lorrin Brubaker

Mercutio: Shu Kinouchi


CREATIVES

Artistic Director/Choreographer: Benjamin Millepied

Executive Director: Lucinda Lent

Director of Production: Nathan Shreeve-Moon

Director of Communications: Alice Mathis

Lighting and Scenic Designer: François-Pierre Couture 

Costume Designer: Camille Assaf

Creative Collaborator: Olivier Simola

Lighting Director: Venus Gulbranson 

Stage Manager: Betsy Herst

Stage Manager: Kait Mahoney

Camera Operator/Assoc. Artistic Director: Sebastien Marcovici

Rehearsal Director: Janie Taylor

Video Technician: Laurent Radanovic

Production & Tour Manager: Alisa Wyman










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