Schaufuss Ballet Revives Ashton’s Romeo and Juliet at the London Coliseum

27/06/2011

News Item – Schaufuss Ballet: Revival of  Ashton’s Romeo and Juliet at the London Coliseum  (Eds)

Preparations continue apace for one of the most spectacular ballet events to be seen in London for many years. Quite simply, it is a sensational revival of Sir Frederick Ashton’s rarely staged and much revered production of Romeo and Juliet’ by Prokofiev with the Bolshoi superstars – and real-life fiancées – Ivan Vasilev and Natalia Osipova in the lead roles. The last revival of this seminal production was in 1985, presented by ENB.

Vasiliev, who has been hailed by the critics as the ‘new Nureyev’, will be playing the lead role of Romeo, while his Juliet, also a much fêted Bolshoi star, will be played by his future wife Osipova. Ivan set the dance world on fire last year in the Bolshoi’s critically acclaimed production of Spartacus.

The supporting cast features a sparkling array of international talent, including the show’s Olivier Award-Winning producer Peter Schaufuss as Friar Laurence and his daughter Tara Schaufuss as Livia, at 19 now a member of the Royal Danish Ballet. But the Schaufuss family’s emotional and physical connection with Romeo and Juliet goes much deeper: Peter’s mother, Mona Vangsaae, played Juliet with the Royal Danish Ballet in 1955, with his father Frank Schaufuss appearing as Mercutio, in the first production of Romeo & Juliet to be seen in the west. It’s a unique production for the way in which Sir Frederick Ashton fused Prokofiev’s music and Shakespeare’s characters into a ballet to reveal a rare intimacy between the performers and the audience.

Later in life, Sir Frederick and Peter Schaufuss became close friends and collaborated on the revival of Romeo & Juliet for English National Ballet at the Coliseum in 1985. Hence Sir Frederick Ashton leaving this work to Peter when he died in 1988.

Rising star Alban Lendorf, recently promoted to Principal Dancer of the Royal Danish Ballet, will dance the role of Mercutio. Alban was trained at the Royal Danish Ballet School and appointed soloist in 2010. At 21, the über-talented Lendorf has already danced the Prince in Christopher Wheeldon’s The Sleeping Beauty, the Prince in Swan Lake and Gennaro in Napoli.

Benvolio is Frenchman Robin Bernadet, who trained originally in Toulouse, at l’Opera de Paris and at the Princess Grace Academy in Monte Carlo. He’s also been engaged with Scottish Ballet English National Ballet and the Royal Swedish Ballet.. and has been a member of the Peter Schaufuss Ballet since 2000.

Lord Capulet is Stephen Jefferies, a stalwart of the British ballet scene for more than three decades. His career has been marked by his exceptional interpretative skills: he was widely regarded as one of the finest dance-actors of his generation. After more than 20 years with the Royal Ballet, in1995 he left to take up a post as director of the Hong Kong Ballet.

The Prince of Verona is Benjamin Whitson, Ballet Master of the Peter Schaufuss Ballet, who has danced in productions with the English National Opera, Atlanta Ballet and Opera Holland Park. Whitson joined the Peter Schaufuss Ballet in 2000.

Yoko Takahashi will be dancing the part of Juliet’s nurse. Yoko trained at the Izumi Ballet, IS Ballet Academy, Japan and at the Northern Ballet School, Manchester, receiving the Baines Hewitt Award in 2003 and joining the Peter Schaufuss Ballet in 2006.

There will be nine performances from July 11th to 17th 2011.

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