BWW Review: ROMEO & JULIET Inhabits Hollywood at The Hollywood Bowl
The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Gustav Dudamel, played magnificently July 16, 2019 as they first featured award-winning Pablo Ferrandez in Antonin Dvorak's Cello Concerto in B minor, Opus 104 in a most passionate and stirring performance. The piece was written by Dvorak about his sister-in-law, who never acknowledged her affection for him, giving this piece an extraordinary range of emotions that Ferrandez fervently played, seeming to feel every note and every nuance with his body and his soul. He is an extraordinary musician, and fully captivated the audience; so much so there were numerous encores of appreciation. It was a moving, heart-felt performance, and I would go anywhere to hear and watch him play again, play anything, as this performance was exalting.
Part two of the evening was a reprise, or rather reworking of the performance L. A. Dance Project originally performed at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which I reviewed, in 2018. (/los-angeles/article/BWW-Review-ROMEO-JULIET-at-Walt-Disney-Concert-Hall-20181106) Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet Suite, the epitome of romantic scores, was this time abbreviated somewhat to keep the story told through dance in continuum, which I thought was an asset to the performance. From start to finish, Benjamin Millepied, the creator and choreographer is there with his hand-held camera, giving us different viewpoints of the plot and action, live, and at some points right next to where you were seated in the Bowl audience. He incorporated the entire Hollywood Bowl into the scenario; the grounds, the parking lot, the steps, stairs and the entire open-air audience seating, the passerelle, and even high up in the seating at the very back, although the camera wasn't transferring to the large screen for a bit of that part, so it lost momentum a little. For the most part, the camera-work was an interesting and intimate dimension added to the dance, where it gave you an inside perspective of the dance as it played out in real time.
David Adrian Freeland, Jr., as Romeo, is first on the scene, as we see him on camera/big screen sleeping in the grass on the outlaying grounds of the Bowl. He awakens, and seems to be a bit bewildered as he makes his way to the stage via stage right and pauses on the passerelle to write, with a piece of chalk, Romeo and Juliet, L A Dance Project... and the date... a nice touch... Shakespearean graffiti... forever etched... he makes his way on stage and does a happy-go-lucky sort of solo, as the pizzicato violins accompanied him. Romeo has no idea what is to come...
The story moves forward at a rapid pace, and the descriptive dance sections explain the scenario in a physical characterization of the occurrences, the action, enhanced many times by the cameras' third-eye view, which we get to see close up, at the same time we are seeing the action, live, on stage.
Many times the performers left the stage and were followed with the hand-held as the scenes played out through the backstage areas, the escalator next to the theatre, etc., most of the time during rumble or fight scenes. Although it was exciting to see the live reenactment, it was a bit nerve-wracking watching the performers actually carry this out on the cement steps and walkways of the Bowl seating arena, live, as one of the actors missed a step going down, flying at a rapid pace, but luckily regained his footing, right before he was confronted during the fight scene. A little harrowing for the viewers, and I was just concerned for the dancer's safety.
I think it's a brilliant concept, and by performing at different sites each time, the creative possibilities grow and will flourish. Hopefully, it is a work in progress that will continue to explore and blossom.
The wonderful dancers were Janie Taylor as Juliet, very emotive and soulful, Nathan B. Makolandra as Tybalt, Aaron Carr as Mercurtio and Doug Baum, Anthony Lee Bryant, Mario Gonzalez, Lorrin Brubaker, Daisy Jacobson, Rachelle Rafailedes, Patricia Zhou and Gianna Reisen, dancers at the top of their game, each, all costumed in a mix of eras, styles and genres, that works for this stylized redux
Stay tuned for their next appearance as it will have morphed once again, to enhance the eternal love story even more enjoyably.
Photos by Craig T. Mathew and Greg Grudt/Mathew Imaging © Mathew Imaging