Saturday, October 11, 2003

Bob and Jake and Romeo and Juliet

Bob and I have acquired an expensive little habit: way-too-frequent dinner-and-theater outings. But they're fun! This season's crop of theater started last night with a spectacular Joffrey production of John Cranko's 1962 Romeo & Juliet set to Sergei Prokofiev's lush post-Romantic score.

I'm a huge Joffrey fan, but lately the company has seemed unpolished and downright wobbly in performance. In fact, I switched my ballet-company allegience to the Hubbard Street Dance Company after seeing its mind-blowing spring repertory concert this year, but after last night I'm squarely back in the Joffrey camp.

I had never seen Cranko's setting of R&J (actually, I don't even recall ever hearing Prokofiev's score) -- and I can't remember ever seeing the Joffrey perform in Chicago to a live orchestra -- so the evening was a pretty amazing experience. Cranko's narrative is strong and broad and manifests a deep understanding of both classical ballet's idealism and modern dance's iconoclasm. The Joffery's set for the production is magnificent -- and versatile enough to frame every scene in the ballet with just a few lighting and prop changes. And (I'm going to sound like a big old theater queen here) the sumptuous costumes -- especially at the Capulets' ball -- caused audible gasps in the audience.

And the dancing. Wow. It was exuberant, poignant, thoughtful, moving ... and still fresh and interesting 40 years after it was created. And I would be gravely remiss if I didn't make special mention of the ass on the dancer who played Mercutio. Sigh. It's enough to get me back on the squat rack at the gym.

To counterbalance the overpowering stench of homosexual rapture, the house manager gave Cubs/Marlins scores at both intermissions last night -- and since the Cubs spent their entire game kicking the Marlins' collective ass, everyone in our audience cheered. Quel butch!

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