Flying Fruit, too distracting OKC Ballet Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet in an embraceDear Robert Mills, Artistic Director of the Oklahoma City Ballet,

I know that if I am going to write reviews of local productions, I should probably try to go on opening night but this time I went to the final performance of Romeo and Juliet and wanted to say a few words about it.

Overall, it was an enjoyable afternoon. Juliet, danced by Miki Kawamura, was perfect. She had exactly the right amount of girlish shyness, excitement, and rebellion. On top of that, she was an excellent dancer. All the performers were good actors as well as dancers. The lovesick Romeo, Alvin Tovstogray, was great at general inattention to his surroundings, and Mercutio, Yui Sato, stole every scene in which he was a part. The best dramatized scene was where Juliet’s parents told her she was to marry Paris. Unbeknownst to them, she had already married Romeo. She rebelled, begged, pleaded. They shook her, threw her around in obviously abusive anger. At one point, her father dragged her upright by her hair. It looked authentic.

The sets and costumes were gorgeous and appropriate for the period. I particularly appreciated the costuming of stage hands as monks.

There are a few points that I would like to make Mr. Mills. Firstly, don’t have too much happening on the stage at one time. In the melee near the beginning, there is the gang fight, women throwing clothes in the air, and fruit flying from the wings across the stage. I found myself watching the flying fruit and missed much of the fight scene and dance. It was too distracting.

Secondly, I thought it odd that when the Lord and Lady Capulet introduced Juliet to the man they wanted her to marry, they brought the young man right into her bedchamber AND while she was still in her nightgown. I don’t think that was realistic in any age. I realize the number of sets and set changes must be minimized but that was glaring.

Thirdly, the “Montagues and Capulets” is a wonderfully grand piece of music. It needed some wonderfully grand choreography and dancing to accompany it. I also saw this trouble with the “Grand Pas de Deux” in Nutcracker. They are dramatic pieces and really need dramatic movement.

Finally, nowhere in the program is the music mentioned, neither the names of any of the pieces nor the composer. It should be. Even if the composer is dead, newbies need to know who the composer is and something about the music. Sergei Prokofiev does not care but had the composer been alive, you could have had a legal catastrophe.

In spite of those seeming imperfections, it was well worth the time. Thank you Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Mr. Levine, Oklahoma City Ballet dancers, choreographers, dance master, stage design, light design, crew, and Mr. Mills.