“Oh! We’re in a whale,” said my friend as we walked into the theater to see David Catlin’s adaptation of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.
The stage is set with a white skeletal structure that suggests the great ribcage and jawbones of the massive sea monster, with us inside. From the time we start, we are an audience of Jonahs, waiting for deliverance in the dark belly.
Christopher Wheeldon ended up moving to America because he bought a vacuum. While studying at The Royal Ballet School in London, he came across a Hoover promotion that offered free flights to New York for every vacuum bought. Having seized his opportunity, he was able to join the New York City Ballet, eventually making a name for himself as a choreographer.
Wheeldon’s interpretation of Prokofiev’s Cinderella, now playing at the Kennedy Center, is rooted in classical ballet, but incorporates more obviously emotional movements in a way to appeal to the part of the audience that may not necessarily have a background in dance. Wheeldon has also created relatable characters, such as the stepsisters played by Sarah van Patten and Sasha De Sola, who have slap-stick fights involving kicking and tripping.
Alan Paul’s Romeo & Juliet, now playing at the Lansburgh Theater, is well worth seeing. Although this production has its problems, Ayana Workman is the loveliest Juliet I’ve ever seen. From the moment she enters, Workman is so sweet and artless and spirited that your heart aches for her; you want so badly to protect her from all of the pain you know is coming. And you really want to protect her from Romeo.
It seems unintentional, but Andrew Veenstra’s Romeo reminded me of the unemployed twenty-somethings who used to hang out at the food court offering to buy vodka for girls too young to drive. With his sleeveless hoodie, dark sunglasses, and Miley Cyrus haircut, Romeo looks a lot like Justin Bieber. Maybe that explains some of his appeal to Juliet, who is, after all, supposed to be thirteen or fourteen.