Classic tale of woe a delight to perform

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Lady Capulet (Abigail Boyle) laments her nephew Tybalt's death in a scene from the Royal New Zealand Ballet's production of Romeo & Juliet. Photos: Stephen A'Court

ROYAL New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) dancer Abigail Boyle describes the company’s latest production – Romeo & Juliet – as a feast for the eyes.

Based on William Shakespeare’s play, which is considered one of the world’s greatest love stories, this newly-choreographed ballet by former RNZB artistic director Francesco Ventriglia will be performed in Invercargill on Sunday.

Boyle, who has been with the company since 2005, dances three alternate roles – Lady Capulet, The Nurse and a Harlot.

“So that’s quite challenging to portray both sides… the loving towards Juliet and the coldness towards her as well.”

Boyle said it was an honour to play Lady Capulet (Juliet’s mother), as there were many layers to her character and her story, which evolves throughout the three-act ballet.

“It gets quite deep and she just gets more and more… emotional,” she said.

Abigail Boyle.

“Once Tybalt dies that’s sort of the end of the straw for her. It’s really fun to do.”

The set and costumes for the production have been designed by three-time Oscar winner James Acheson Dangerous Liaisons, The Last Emperor and Restoration).

Boyle described the style as “very renaissance” and was something the company had received a lot of positive feedback about from audiences.

“It’s an honour to wear something that he’s designed… They’re incredible, I think Juliet has six changes, I’ve got three, so it’s definitely a feast for the eyes and very colourful.”

As a new production of an old story, Boyle said it was always intriguing to see what the choreographer would bring to the table.

She said Ventriglia had kept it quite traditional, with the pas de deux (dance duet) between Romeo and Juliet drawing a lot of “wows” from the audience.

“You can kind of hear [the audience] and that’s just what Francesco does. He’s always known for his beautiful pas de deux, so they shine through definitely.”

Romeo & Juliet will be the RNZB’s final performance in Invercargill this year and tickets are selling well so far.

Boyle said the story was always popular with audiences.

“This production in particular, I don’t think you should miss it and I hope it comes back really quickly,” she said.

“It’s three hours but I’ve talked to [people who say] it doesn’t feel like that because there’s so much to look at, it’s just really entertaining.”

The Ryman Healthcare Season of Romeo & Juliet, Civic Theatre, Sunday, September 17, 7.30pm. Tickets from TicketDirect and the Invercargill City Council booking office.

Warm Up, Curtain Up– see the dancers warm up on stage before the performance. Meet in the theatre foyer at 6.10pm for a 6.20pm start. Duration 20-30 minutes. Gold coin donation.

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