As Mercutio, Nathan Champion gave a superb performance, giving his fights an element of danger that was truly entertaining. The women of the Company were very effective, handling their swords with confidence and displaying sound technique in their fights. Elease Stice as Morgana and Sarah Weaver as Alessandra led the way with unbelievable accuracy and charismatic weight. The Alternate cast of Gabriella Moore as Morgana and Stice as Alessandra was just as impressive, with Stice having to reverse her fights. Stice was delivering two complete fencing performances in this demanding mind puzzle that is the theatrical fencing art form. All the women fights, revised choreographically by Daveluy, were exciting to watch. Adelina Milano and Bethany Phelps, two veterans of CWB's theatrical fencers, also got in a few fencing moves, with Milano fighting in left hand mode, another impressive exercise in concentration. Bethany Phelps, who was fighting Grant Landon's Balthasar also delivered her fight with intensity, giving Landon a chance to learn the ropes in the field. John Fowler reprised his role of Escalus with convincing acting as he stopped the fighting in the first act.
Where Art Thou - Romeos
This year's Romeo and Juliet was a bitter sweet farewell for Joseph Adkins, who is moving on in his modeling career. The San Francisco based Adkins is ending a stellar decade with Central West Ballet as one of CWB's most cherished Principals. Adkins opened with a thoughtful soliloquy in the first act which was heart breaking for those who have followed his career with Central West. For such a young dancer, his maturity was nevertheless clear and his emotional depth was fully realized in the role of Romeo. In all his scenes with Nicole Firpo as Juliet, Adkins showed realism and genuine fondness for Firpo, his partner of many years. Adkins's solos and partnering were never better. His experience as a partner was what made this performance so memorable and meaningful. One can only say that Adkins has left an indelible mark in Central West's Hall of Fame.
As Romeo, Brandon Phelps shifted to softer moves and displayed a vulnerability that brought Romeo's character to life. His ability to make the most of each scene and communicate with the other characters surrounding him made his Romeo completely integrated with the story. With Alyssa Milano as his Juliet, Phelps went beyond their superlative relationship as partners by augmenting the emotional content of their duets. His care for making all his appearances fully realized is what makes Phelps another great Central West Ballet Principal who has given much to the Company's artistic success.
Star Crossed Lovers in Two Pairs
The world famous lovers were in good hands on May 4 and 6, as Nicole Firpo and Joseph Adkins performed for the premiere and Alyssa Milano and Brandon Phelps performed the closing show. Firpo, the quintessential Juliet, was even better then her original star making performance. With incredible acting and superb lyrical technique, Firpo dominated the production with the strength of a Lynn Seymour and artistry of a Margot Fonteyn. Firpo's bottomless feelings and charm as the young Capulet transported the production into the perfect Shakespearian world. On May 6, Alyssa Milano stepped into the role for the first time, bringing her superb timing skills to the legendary role of Juliet. The tall ballerina, showing qualities of a Karen Kain, was able to transform herself into the young Juliet with a genuine sense of youth and exuberance. It was wonderful to see Milano burn the floor with emotional carefree moves. Milano succeeded in her understanding of the dramatic side of Juliet's progression as the ballet unfolded. Her normally subtle and controlled stage delivery gave way to a performance based more on emotion driven movements reminiscent of a Moira Shearer. Their respective Romeos, Joseph Adkins and Brandon Phelps were the heroes of this year's production. The two leading male dancers were at the top of their game in stage presence and as romantic Principals.
Firpo and Adkins could be at times reminiscent of the famous Fonteyn and Nureyev atmosphere which made the ballet so well known. In the hands of Adkins, Firpo glided effortlessly from one lift to the other. The two of them seemed genuinely in love from the first moment Juliet meets Romeo. What made their partnership so special is that one can see the same passion in each of them for living their roles entirely and with unabashed spectacle. With so much of their souls shared together on stage, the partnership of Firpo and Adkins will remain a bright star in the constellation of Central West Ballet couples. In Alyssa Milano and Brandon Phelps, the production of Romeo and Juliet has found a solid couple who revels in accomplishing the most demanding of partnering moves. Milano and Phelps are no strangers to each other, with Milano's first venture into the role of Juliet, their effect together as a romantic item on stage was duplicated by their already symbiotic relationship in so many other ballets they have already performed. Phelps seems to know every facet of Milano's movements and in return, her complete dedication to his partnering was a wonder to watch as the Star Crossed Lovers.
Shakespeare At His Best
May 4 and 6, 2012
Shakespeare never looked better on May 4 and 6 with Central West Ballet's production of Romeo & Juliet. The colorful costumes, set against ominous rolling towers and stairways gave the ballet a vibrant feel all the way through the evening. Central West dancers were in top form in each scene, with defined characterization and technical abilities. René Daveluy's revision of his choreography was much improved from the original 2009 version. With his dances more coherent and efficient, Daveluy's distinct take on the famous ballet has great potential for a full fledge massive production in the year's to come.
Right from the start, the action packed staging gave the Company a great deal of opportunities to display their theatrical swordsmanship. Leading the cast was Wally Layne as Tybalt, fighting each of the Montagues, with Brandon Phelps as Mercutio in flawless fencing shape. Phelps and Layne flowed across the stage with intuitive attacks and impressive acting. Brian Leonard was astonishing in his sword fights as he expertly handled solid moves by Phillip Riskin's or Aaron Gulevich's character of Paris. Joseph Adkins's long time fencing experience was backing up the production, with superlative fencing technique and perfect timing.
Romeo & Juliet 2012 - Full Review, Part 1 By CWB OFFICE
RENÉ DAVELUY ~ ARTISTIC DIRECTOR