Last week I had the pleasure of attending the official opening night of Matthew Bourne’s Romeo + Juliet at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre—and what a dazzling night it was—plus this LA run marks the production’s North American premiere! This is my fourth time seeing a Matthew Bourne production (previously I saw The Red ShoesSwan Lake and Sleeping Beauty) and I believe this is my favorite one that I’ve seen so far.

Bourne takes on the classic Shakespeare play and brings us a fresh and thrilling retelling of the infamous star crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. No longer is it their dueling families trying to keep them apart, it’s set in a heavily controlled institute that is keeping the young lovers apart from each other—in the words of Rihanna, “(they) found love in a hopeless place.”

The story is told entirely through the use of dance—a breathtaking mix of contemporary dance along with ballet—and the super talented cast executed the moves with a sense of urgency and electrified emotion that was bursting on the stage. Set to the music of Sergei Prokofiev‘s ballet Romeo and Juliet (composed in 1935 and first performed in the Soviet Union in 1940), the show opens with ‘Dance of the Knights’ which sets this wonderful grandiose and dramatic mood.

I have not seen a lot of shows that rely entirely on dance,  but once I mentally settled into the show, I was entirely captivated all the way up to the tragic ending. Of course, I was rooting for Romeo and Juliet to escape the ‘Verona Institute,’ but alas Shakespeare always has the final word. If you’re a fan of Matthew Bourne’s work, or new to the genre, this is a perfect entry point.

The show is playing now through February 25th—this is definitely one not to miss—the dancing alone is worth the price of admission—bravo to the entire cast—which is also quite attractive—another bonus!

For tickets and more information, visit Center Theatre Group.

Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet gives Shakespeare’s timeless story of forbidden love a scintillating injection of raw passion and youthful vitality. Confined against their will by a society that seeks to divide, our two young lovers must follow their hearts as they risk everything to be together. A masterful re-telling of an ageless tale of teenage discovery and the madness of first love, Romeo and Juliet garnered universal critical acclaim when it premiered in 2019, and now returns to the New Adventures repertoire alongside the very best of Bourne’s world renowned dance theatre productions.

Directed and choreographed by Matthew Bourne, collaborating with the New Adventures Artistic team; Etta Murfitt (Associate Artistic Director), Lez Brotherston (Set and Costume design), Paule Constable (Lighting Design), Paul Groothuis (Sound Design) and Arielle Smith (Associate Choreographer) with Terry Davies’ thrillingly fresh orchestrations of Prokofiev’s dynamic score.


About MICHAEL KNUDSEN 5716 Articles
MK (Michael Knudsen) first started PopBytes back in September of 2003—while trying to make a website for his design portfolio, the site quickly turned into one of the premiere online destinations for all things pop culture! A native New Yorker, he currently resides in Los Angeles with his partner Ivan along with four dogs, four cats and two parrots. Follow him on Twitter @PopBytes.