Gamm Theatre’s Tony Estrella on bringing Shakespeare to life in words and movement

Tony Estrella
Dramaturgist, “Romeo & Juliet”
Artistic Director, Gamm Theatre

When you’re an actor, there are many, many great plays and then there is Shakespeare. The rich, poetic verse, the twisting plots, the masterful characterization and fathomless psychological depth makes the Bard’s work stand out in the wonderfully diverse history of the theater.

That’s why the last few months have been such an adventure for me, both as an artist and a lover of Shakespeare. I have been working alongside choreographer Ilya Kozadayev and the dancers of Festival Ballet to bring to life a brand new adaptation of Romeo & Juliet which pays homage to both the spirit and the text of Shakespeare’s most famous story.

The idea came from Misha Djuric, who wanted to bring actors into the production, speaking live on stage, to become part of the story. The result is a multisensory experience blending movement, music, and words. It is truly remarkable.

Jeanine Kane (left) and Richard Noble

I enlisted two wonderful actors Jeanine Kane and Richard Noble, both experienced Shakespeareans and familiar faces in the local theater scene. Throughout the course of the ballet each of them play multiple roles, from the Chorus (narrators) to Friar Laurence and Juliet’s Nurse. Weaving in and out of the action for much of the ballet, they bring the music of Shakespeare’s verse to bear on Prokofiev’s gorgeous, powerful score. In one powerful tableau, Jeanine delivers Lady Capulet’s impassioned plea for vengeance as the raw agony of a kinsman’s death consumes her. It is a stunning, breathtaking, synthesis of three languages, Shakespeare’s words, Prokofiev’s music, and Kozadayev’s transcendent choreography. 

Jeanine Kane (behind), Marissa Parmenter (center), Alex Lantz (front)

The greatest gift of Shakespeare is, of course, the poetic verse that flows through his tangled stories, showing us the true power and beauty of the English language. When performed live, Shakespeare is a delicious combination of phrasing and melody; his words do not just sing, they also dance.

I can’t wait for you to experience this beautiful new work of dance and theater. It truly is a remarkable accomplishment and I feel humbled and privileged to have helped bring it to life. Don’t miss it!

Tony Estrella is Artistic Director of Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre

See Romeo & Juliet at The Vets Feburary 10-12, 2017. Click here for tickets.

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