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BrumHour was invited to see Romeo and Juliet at Birmingham Hippodrome by Birmingham Royal Ballet.
By Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour
Review: Birmingham Royal Ballet Romeo and Juliet at Birmingham Hippodrome
Choreography by Kenneth MacMillan, Music by Sergei Prokofiev
Two families are at odds. The son of one, Romeo (César Morales) catches the attention of the daughter of the other, Juliet (Momoko Hirata) we see them meet and fall head over heels, despite the fact that Juliet is already being set up with Paris (Alexander Yap).
Momoko Hirata is wonderful as Juliet, vulnerable, and presenting Juliet’s difficult transition from child to woman. At the beginning, she still wants to hang around with her nurse (Yvette Knight) and play with her dolls. César Morales as Romeo is someone who still wants to be in a group rather than a leader, matching with his peers and emerging himself as someone who wants to take charge. Their moments together are fantastic and intimate.
This is a huge, lavish feeling production which demonstrates the vibrant history of both this 1965 choreography by Kenneth MacMillan and music by Prokofiev first used for Romeo and Juliet ballet itself in 1938 and here is expertly performed by Royal Ballet Sinfonia led by conductor Philip Ellis. It also marks the return of Birmingham Royal Ballet to the stage of Birmingham Hippodrome nearly 20 months since their last main stage performance.
When a production is in its home theatre, it is easy to see how comfortable they are with the space, the set is tailored for the size and depth of the Birmingham Hippodrome’s deep stage and the last production I saw which did this – panto aside – was Birmingham Hippodrome’s own West Side Story which in itself is a version of Romeo and Juliet.
The costumes themselves have also have a huge Shakespearean quality to them apart from the random men in head to toe body suits with rag tags hanging off them. I was rather confused by those, were they Jesters or men escaped from marshland?? Maybe they are a traditional Romeo and Juliet ballet element.
Whilst I like to avoid looking at the story notes on the day itself, the cast sheet and story notes are really helpful with their breakdown of running times. There’s three acts, plus two breaks, one 20 minutes and the other 15 minutes, the performance started at 7.30pm and finished just after 10.30pm which might feel quite long for some people but the breaks really help as you are not sat for more than an hour during each act.
For this performance I was placed on the balcony of the dress circle, normally I’m sat in the stalls, I was able to see the conductor arrive and the huge warm applause for him and the orchestra too. And when Carlos Acosta delivered his welcoming message at the start you could see how thrilled the audience was even at specially socially distant performance.
A stunning return to Birmingham Hippodrome for Birmingham Royal Ballet. Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet is at Birmingham Hippodrome until 9th October. Book here: birminghamhippodrome.com/calendar/brb-romeo-and-juliet-2