GR Ballet Presents Passionate Romeo & Juliet Update

Romeo & Juliet
Grand Rapids Ballet
Peter Martin Wedge Theatre, Grand Rapids
May 10-12, 17-19; show times at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
$30-40, (616) 454-4771

From the iconic 'wherefore art thou' to the dagger's final plunge, William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet delivers enthralling moments that continue to captivate audiences worldwide. This classic tale of forbidden passion returns once again with Grand Rapids Ballet's season finale, Romeo & Juliet. Selling out at its world premiere in 2011, the show has earned international recognition and is the company's most requested work.

While Shakespeare's storyline and Sergei Prokofiev's traditional score provide a familiar backdrop, Mario Radacovsky's new choreography infuses the ballet with vibrant energy and an updated, modern feel. Dance elements are athletic and novel, blending classical and contemporary movement in stunning, imaginative ways.

For Radacovsky, it is particularity important that the choreography expresses authentic emotion that resonates with real-life experiences.

"With this Romeo & Juliet, I would like to tell a tale of passion, love and hate – many aspects of our lives and emotions,"Radacovsky said. "I hope to convey to the audience how this classic story is relevant to all of us. We have all had our Juliets or Romeos, and struggled with barriers. I believe this ballet can be a truly unique experience for all of us – dancers, directors and audience – as we explore with such honesty the passion, love and tragedy of Romeo & Juliet."

Sets and costumes are smoothly incorporated into this vision, transforming the emotions of a familiar tale into urgent feelings audiences can connect with. Background projections are rich with sentimental symbolism, while shrouds offog and splashes of light flood scenes with meaning. Outfits contribute to the immediacy of the ballet, as well as highlight dancers' expression and provide a current edge.

"Grand Rapids Ballet's Romeo & Juliet is a contemporary take on a classic tale," Artistic Director Patricia Barker said. "Some details are stripped, but [Radacovsky] has also taken Shakespeare's tragic love story and made it accessible to all ages with dramatic lighting, modern costuming and stunning dance."

The ballet also tugs at heartstrings by relating all of the characters' inner turmoil to love – a core aspect of human existence. The result is a textured, in-depth exploration of one of the most universal human experiences.

"Shakespeare took the strongest, most basic emotion of human life and created an entire play around it – love. Young love, passionate love, hate love and tragic love," Radacovsky said. "Love is the centerpiece for all other feelings that come into play. It is my hope, with this Romeo & Juliet, that I give you an incredible experience of the many facets of love."


La Traviata
Opera Grand Rapids
DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids
May 3 & 4, 7:30 p.m.
$21-$98, students 50 percent off, (616) 451-2741

Verdi's La Traviatacloses Opera Grand Rapids' season with a spellbinding spectacle of drama, passion and grit. Introduced to many audiences in the film Pretty Woman, La Traviatais the second most performed opera in the world and features an iconic soprano role. The plot centers on the unlikely romance between high society courtesan Violetta and provincial bourgeoisie Alfredo. Ultimately, the course of true love does not run smooth, as the blossoming relationship is inevitably plagued by scandal and tragedy. English subtitles and a pre-show lecture from opera experts help audiences savor the performance to the fullest.


How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Kalamazoo Civic Theatre
May 3, 4, 9-12, 17-19; show times at 2, 7:30 and 8 p.m.
$12-23, (269) 343-1313

A smirking Broadway favorite with plenty of charm and wit, How to Succeed tells the story of an ordinary man's rise to greatness. The story begins when window washer J. Pierrepont Finch finds an instructional guide for climbing the cooperate ladder. Excitement escalates and outrageous satire abounds as the guide leads Finch to defeat rivals, find love and gain an executive position. When Finch's company faces disaster, however, he must suddenly rely on his own ingenuity and street-smarts to come out on top.


Anything Goes
Broadway Grand Rapids
DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids
May 14-19; show times at 1, 2, 6:30, 7:30 and 8 p.m.
$32 & up, (616) 235-6285

Featuring unforgettable numbers such as "I Get a Kick Out of You," "You're the Top" and "Anything Goes," this Cole Porter classic typifies the dazzle, hilarity and heart of vintage Broadway. The cheeky storyline sets sail when a gangster, a debutante, a nightclub singer and a businessman climb aboard an American ship bound for England. Before long, romance buds and mayhem breaks loose as the passengers throw social norms overboard and fall for each other in unexpected ways.