by Christopher Key
Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has inspired everything from a science-fiction rock musical to a ballet to a graphic novel. When Bellingham Dance Company director Mary Simler Evans was looking for a familiar story on which to create her latest production, there it was. Yes, you know the story, but you have never seen anything like what Evans and her staff of choreographers have put together.
Since I mentioned other choreographers, let’s give them a shout out since they are all brilliant:
Cody Johnson, Yasmare Gonzalez Pi, Jeff Simler, Abby Staten and Maggie Rose. They’ve taken the Bard to places he’s never been before and the result is breathtaking. Along the way, they incorporate everything from the Texas Two-Step to hip-hop to belly dancing and that’s just for starters.
The star-crossed lovers are played by Glenn Elliron Clarke and Tempeste Langille, who are a somewhat less tragic couple offstage. Tall and slender, Langille has the grace of a ballerina and a striking face that she uses to great effect. Clarke hasn’t been dancing that long, but you’d never know it from this performance.
This production has nothing but highlights, so I’ll choose a few to tantalize you. Von Ochoa introduces the show with a few lines from the Bard and also pronounces the famous benediction at the end. It’s the perfect frame for the show and he’s a helluva dancer, to boot.
Watch for Marina Purdie as The Princess. If you’ve paid any attention at all to theatre since the turn of the century, you’ll recognize the youngest of an extraordinarily talented family. She has a lovely and serene stage presence that comes as no surprise given her heritage.
Abby Staten choreographed and performs an absolutely enchanting dance in the wedding scene that seemed to my inexpert eye to be inspired by the hula. It is mesmerizing.
Evans has chosen a wildly eclectic range of music for the production that includes everyone from Yo Yo Ma to Beyoncé to Monks for Peace. The music very effectively showcases the talents of the dancers and I wish I could name them all. They deserve it.
The ubiquitous Dave Wright and Dennis Grayer provide the technical expertise and nobody does it better.
If you miss this stunningly original performance, you’ll regret it forever and I won’t hesitate to rub it in. There are only three chances to see this show: Friday evening, Saturday matinee and evening, so you’d better get after it. According to the BDC site, there aren’t that many tickets left. It goes down at the Majestic and it’s the best $15 you’ve spent all year. Order tickets online because there may not be any available at the door.
Old Bill would have loved it!
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