Young love is just as much in demand in autumn as it is in the spring, and it will be abundant when Of Moving Colors reprises “Romeo + Juliet” on Friday.
“This is a history-making production for us,” Artistic Director Garland Goodwin Wilson says. “For the first time in its almost 30 years, Of Moving Colors will answer to audience demand by presenting a repeat performance of a much-loved work.”
The professional contemporary dance company brought together six choreographers to create an original dance interpretation of William Shakespeare’s classic tale of young lovers from rival families. The show was performed only one time, last April in the Manship Theatre.
It returns to the Manship stage with the majority of the original cast intact, including Will Bove as Romeo and Courtney Landry as Juliet. Guest performers Michele Ball, of Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre, and Kevin Bell will dance the roles of Lady and Lord Capulet.
“We tweaked some things in the show, which is what performing it a second time gives us a chance to do,” Wilson says. “But it’s still the same show.”
To create this production, Wilson adapted a script of Shakespeare’s work for contemporary movement, paring the play down into its most vital characters and scenes.
“This work captures the essence of the story without using a literal narrative or gestures like the classical play or ballet might do,” she says. “It’s a very contemporary perspective.”
“Romeo + Juliet” is accompanied by a stark yet ethereal sound score and backed by a set created by film set designers Bennett Seymour and Patric Sullivan and company dancer Craig Messina.
It all comes together to tell Shakespeare’s story through a variety of interpretations by choreographers John Allen, associate professor of Dance at Tulane University; the company’s associate director, Carrie Tatum; company choreographers Bethany Jones McCullough and Courtney Landry; and Wilson.
And creating the introductory scenes was Pavel Zustiak, artistic director of the dance company Palissimo in New York, who met with the company in early 2015, calling his scene a who’s who segment of “meet the Montagues and Capulets.”
Zustiak worked with the company for five days in its home base at the Powell Moise School of Dance. He also choreographed Of Moving Colors 2014 production of “Pink.”
“It’s a gift to work with this company,” he said last spring. “They’re open to different approaches and mixtures, and they appreciate it.”
Zustiak referenced the contemporary, surreal setting of Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 film, “Romeo + Juliet,” in developing his choreography. Wilson followed his lead, welcoming the challenge of adapting a play dominated by male roles to fit her predominantly female company.
“So, with us, it’s a reversal of Shakespeare’s times,” Wilson says. “We have more women than men, so a lot of the male characters are played by females.”
This performance will be the last time Of Moving Colors will stage Shakespeare’s love story. After that, the company moves on to preparing for what is probably its most popular annual show, “Kick It Out,” set for Jan. 22-23.
“We came together and created an extraordinary piece of theater in Baton Rouge,” Wilson says. “This is the last chance our audience will have to see it.”