By Design: Kevin Dreyer Lights Romeo & Juliet

Shakespeare's famous play about young, star-crossed lovers transformed into a ballet, originally choreographed by John Cranko in 1962 to the beautiful eponymous score by Prokofiev, was seen as part of Boston Ballet's 2017-2018 season. This is a new production for Boston Ballet, with sets and costumes purchased from the Joffrey Ballet and are the original Jurgen Rose designs.

"John Cranko’s Romeo & Juliet is not new to me," explains lighting designer Kevin Dreyer. "I have mounted it on two other companies, including the Joffrey, and on two different sets. This was very important when it came to fitting the piece into the Boston Ballet Rep Plot and, more importantly, into the tight quarters of the Opera House."

This particular plot has a fairly subdued color palette. "The strongest color is an R17 in the sides to pop the gold trim on the costumes plus the sunrise feel of the top of the show and a deep blue (Lee 132) backlight," says Dreyer, who adds, "with the exception of a few very key moments, it is a design that lives in the background in service to the choreography. That said, it is also about painting images that look like they could come off of canvases in a European art collection. The drops have a distinctly Renaissance feel to them, and so I pulled colors and style from them. The gestures are soft for the majority of the time but grandly romantic for the balcony scene, and for the tomb, as you would expect, but also some unexpected moments such as Lady Capulet’s grief over Tybalt’s death at the end of the second act. Frankly, the combination of scenery, costumes, and music made the ball scene one of the more intimidating moments for me. If the lights didn’t make the audience take a breath at the beauty and pageantry when they popped on, I would not have done my job."

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