Birmingham Royal Ballet's Romeo and Juliet, Birmingham Hippodrome - review with pictures
The mercury was rising outside - and inside Birmingham Hippodrome the stars of the city's ballet sizzled as they brought the world's most famous love story to the stage.
Powerful, passionate and poignant: Birmingham Royal Ballet's Romeo and Juliet was mesmerising from start to finish.
Kenneth MacMillan's adaptation of Shakespeare's famous play is quite brilliant. From the intense choreography and dramatic acting to the atmospheric setting of Renaissance Verona and the colourful mix of costumes - this is one spell-binding production.
And then there's the music. Prokofiev's soaring score, performed by the brilliant Royal Ballet Sinfonia, packs a punch as a driving force behind the story of young love, forbidden passions, deadly fueds, star-crossed fate and tragedy. The music is as powerful as the dancing, and it's no surprise the conductor received an extended applause of his own.
The scene - and mood - is set from the opening of the first act, when we are introduced to sworn enemies the Capulets and Montagues. A quarrel develops between Tybalt, a nephew of Capulet, and Romeo and his friends Mercutio and Benvolio. A fight begins and the bodies start to pile up, paving the way for the tragedy ahead.
Soon we arrive at the Capulets' masked ball, where Romeo and Juliet first meet.
Brandon Lawrence and Celine Gittens are perfectly matched in the title roles.
We see their passion and their pain as they are transformed from a young, giddy couple to tortured lovers. They give a captivating portrayal of the star-crossed lovers - from the balcony scene's pas de deux to their heartbreaking end.
Highlights include Lawrence's duet with his lover's supposedly lifeless body, which is beautifully brilliant, while the awe-inspiring Gittens produces spectacular en pointe work. Their dancing is superb - as are their acting skills.
This is a love story which require strong actors and the company delivers.
Special mention to Tzu-Chao Chou and Yasuo Atsuji who were impressive in the roles of Mercutio and Benvolio, as was Ruth Brill, who played Juliet's nurse.
Bravo Birmingham Royal Ballet. Another world class production.
Romeo and Juliet runs at the Hippodrome until Saturday - it would be a tragedy to miss it.