Justin Michael Hogan & Leigh Anne Albrechta. Photo: Sam English

Romeo & Juliet

Choreography by Adam Hougland
Music by Sergei Prokofiev
Scenic & Lighting Design by Trad A Burns
Costume Design by Christian Squires

Review by Valerie Canon

Entire contents are copyright © 2018 by Valerie Canon. All rights reserved.

In the opening moment, the heads of the Montague and Capulet families stand above a mound of bodies. It reminds the audience of the weight of the feuding clans. From behind the family steps out the youth: the star-crossed lovers. The moment perfectly encapsulates the opening prologue of Shakespeare’s iconic play.

Louisville Ballet’s newest production of Romeo and Juliet is outstanding. Words cannot describe how visually stunning Adam Hougland’s Romeo & Juliet is. One must see it for themselves. Every element is well thought out to bring a modern rendition of the storyline. Mr. Hougland’s choreography style is well suited for the company members. The dancing was exquisite. The costumes (Christian Squires) harken back to 1960’s Sci-fi and help bring a (familiar and endearing) edge to the ballet. The simple set design (Trad A. Burns) is marvelous and the use of lighting to alter the stages appearance and feeling of the space was beautifully executed in this production. Tara Simoncic, (Louisville Ballet’s Music Director), masterfully conducted the performance. Having a live orchestra to play Prokofiev’s luxurious score was a real treat.

There were a few moments that the narrative felt lost in the choreography; moments where less formalized movement and more connection between the characters would have felt more appropriate. Thankfully, it is a familiar story so the audience stays engaged in the narrative. One disappointment was the loss of Mercutio’s famous line, “A plague a ‘both your houses!” Though Mercutio’s (played by the incomparable Kateryna Sellers) death invoked an emotional reaction, the loss of the blame on both the families for her death is maybe an aspect to reconsider upon reflection. The fight scenes were also a bit lackluster.

Kateryna Sellers as Mercutio was playful and a brilliant choice for Romeo’s best friend, though the character was heavily altered. Tybalt, the Prince of Cats is portrayed by Phillip Velinov, who is really good at playing the villain. Another liberty taken in the ballet is the completely accidental death of Mercutio. An interesting choice, but it allowed Mr. Velinov the opportunity to have a moment of reflection as Tybalt. Do I feel shame for killing Mercutio or shame for the punishment I am sure to receive for killing Mercutio? It was a brilliant moment of acting. Paris, Justin Michael Hogan, is usually an uninteresting part, but Mr. Hougland completely reimagined this character and made it unbelievably creepy and lizard-like.

Paris was able to make each scene so uncomfortable that it wasn’t hard to imagine Juliet would take almost any measure necessary to not be stuck marrying Paris, with or without Romeo in the picture. Bravo Mr. Hogan for your portrayal of this disturbing Paris.

As the title characters, Leigh Anne Albrechta and Mark Krieger were perfectly matched and encapsulated the love and angst of youthful love. They expressed the joyous freedom only felt by young love. They also gave the weight and despair that goes hand in hand such loss and heartache.

Both Artistic Director Robert Curran, and Choreographer, Adam Hougland observe that we are living in a time of great division. Is there a better ballet to remind us of the ultimate loss we will have if we continue to divide and devise against each other? This Romeo & Juliet is a timely and excellent ballet. This is the way to begin a season and it is NOT to be missed. Bravo Louisville Ballet!

Romeo & Juliet

September 7 & 8 @ 8:00 PM
September 8 @ 2:00 PM

Louisville Ballet
Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts
501 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202


Valerie Canon is an actor, director, dancer, model, and choreographer based in the Greater Louisville area. Mrs. Canon received her BFA in ballet performance from Oklahoma University in 2004, and has performed in ballets around the country as a principal, soloist, and corps de ballet member. She recently directed Unhindered and Ungendered 2018: Minor Characters/Major Songs for Wayward Actors Company in March 2018.