Miami City Ballet's Romeo and Juliet Lives Up to Expectations

The Arsht Center was sold out for the Miami City Ballet

premiere of Romeo and Juliet. Yet the

dancers who play the star-crossed lovers -- and who happen to be married in

real life -- shared a private moment. In the closing scene, Juliet (Jennifer

Kronenberg) plunged an imaginary dagger into her belly and fell atop the corpse

of her Romeo (Carlos Guerra). The couple bowed to rapturous applause. Then, as

the curtain dropped, Kronenberg gently rested her head on her husband's


The audience was in no mood for mourning. This was the gala

celebration of MCB's 25th anniversary season, and many in the crowd

were dressed in tuxedos and full-length gowns that rivaled the sumptuous

costumes by Susan Benson.

This production of John Cranko's 1962 version of the

Shakespeare classic was reportedly the most expensive MCB production to date.

The set, also designed by Benson, conjured eight separate settings, from Juliet's

bedroom to a bustling market place to a crowded ballroom to Friar Laurence's

creepy "cell in the forest." The townswomen whirled beneath layers of skirts

and the nobles posed in silky capes and wraps that they gingerly dropped on the

floor or unfurled overhead like banners. Like the fabric, the dancers flowed

smoothly from suspended arabesques into rapid twirls and twisting leaps.

Kleber Rebello earned a particularly boisterous ovation for

his portrayal of Romeo's hot-headed friend Mercutio. He whipped round and

round, at times lifting off the stage like a helicopter. Prowling across the

floor to threaten his rivals, Isanusi-Garcia Rodriguez conveyed the dangerous

pride of Tybalt, Romeo's nemesis and Juliet's relative. The fight that leaves

both men dead was every bit as thrilling as an action sequence in a Michael Bay

movie. Their demise was all the more dramatic thanks to composer Prokofiev's

staccato death rattles. The Opus One Orchestra, conducted by Gary Sheldon, here

and elsewhere, matched the dancers' movements and mood perfectly.

But for all the acrobatics of the carnival clowns and the

beauty of the bridesmaids bearing lilies, the ballet belonged to the lovers.

They were overcome with passion: Finding her alone in her bedroom, Romeo spun

in the air. He threw Juliet over his shoulder and she plunged toward the

ground. She bent her back over his arms, clung to his torso, suspended now by

her arms around his neck, now by his hands beneath her armpits. True, they died

at the end, but at the Arsht on Friday night, love conquered all.


-- Celeste 

Fraser Delgado,

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Miami New Times staff