An Epic Original Hong Kong Love Story

Ancient grudges between triad families. Passion and tragedy. The iconic balcony scene. Set in Hong Kong in the turbulent 1960s, Shakespeare’s timeless tale of star-crossed lovers is given a fresh and thought-provoking retelling in Septime Webre’s new Romeo + Juliet. Juliet’s father is an unrelenting Shanghainese tycoon who is determined to marry his only daughter off to a wealthy gweilo (Caucasian), and Webre’s original choreography seamlessly incorporates intense street battles rendered in traditional Hong Kong-style kung fu. Accompanied by Prokofiev’s dramatic score, retro Hong Kong is vividly brought to life in the epic love story’s captivating dancing, complex drama and sumptuous cheongsams. This brilliantly imagined adaptation is especially relevant for contemporary audiences as it fuses dance and drama against a backdrop of a world in flux.

13.1.2023 (Fri) 8:00pm
14.1.2023 (Sat) 2:00pm
New York City Center

Join HKB on its much-anticipated tour to New York’s celebrated New York City Center.

Inquiries: [email protected]llet.com
Tickets NOW available at New York City Center
Tickets from USD 35
2 hrs 15 mins with an intermission
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Cast List

Date/Time 

13 Jan 8pm

14 Jan 2pm

Romeo

Alejandro VIRELLES

Taras DOMITRO

Juliet

YE Feifei

Xuan CHENG

Juliet's Mother

WANG Qingxin

WANG Qingxin

Juliet's Father

WEI Wei

Yonen TAKANO

Juliet's Amah

ZHANG Xuening

GAO Ge

Tai Po

Garry CORPUZ

Alexander YAP

Mr. Parker

Henry SELDON

Jonathan SPIGNER

Little Mak

Chun Long LEUNG

Albert GORDON

Benny

Jonathan SPIGNER

Kyle LIN

Romeo's Sifu

Ethan CHUDNOW

Garry CORPUZ

Principal Guest Artists

Principal Dancer, Berlin State Ballet

Born in Santiago, Cuba, Alejandro Virelles trained at National Ballet School of Cuba and upon graduation joined National Ballet of Cuba, where he became a principal dancer within five years. Afterwards, he danced with Barcelona Ballet and Boston Ballet, was invited to join English National Ballet in 2014 as a principal dancer and then joined Berlin State Ballet in 2018.

Virelles has danced most of the major roles in classical repertoire, worked with many leading choreographers and artistic directors and appeared in numerous prestigious galas and festivals. He has won awards at Varna International Ballet Competition and International Ballet Competition of Havana.

Artistic Director, Hollywood Ballet Academy
Former Principal Dancer, San Francisco Ballet and National Ballet of Cuba

Born in Havana, Cuba, Taras Domitro trained at Alejo Carpentier School and National Ballet School of Cuba in Havana. He became a Principal Dancer with National Ballet of Cuba at age 20 and later joined San Francisco Ballet as a Principal Dancer in 2008. He recently founded Hollywood Ballet Academy and is currently its Artistic Director.

Domitro’s accolades include a best dancer nomination at the 2013 Benois da la Danse, a gold medal at World Ballet Competition 2008, the grand prix at Peru’s 2003 International Ballet Festival and first prize and the Revelation Award at the 2000 International Ballet Competition of Havana. He has guest performed around the world with many renowned ballet companies, galas and festivals. Since 2017, he has taught ballet at different programmes, and in 2020, he became a faculty member at The Art of Classical Ballet School.

 
Choreography: Septime Webre
Music: Sergei Prokofiev
Costume Design: Mandy Tam
Set Design: Ricky Chan
Assistant Set Designer : Ryan Lo
Lighting Design: Ruby Yau
Original Lighting Design and Lighting Consultant: Billy Chan
Dramaturge: Yan Pat To
Make-up Design: M•A•C Cosmetics
Martial Arts Advisor: Hing Chao
Martial Arts Partner: International Guoshu Association

Artistic Director

Septime Webre, Artistic Director at Hong Kong Ballet (HKB), is an internationally recognised ballet director, choreographer, educator and advocate. He joined HKB as Artistic Director in July 2017 after seventeen years as Artistic Director of The Washington Ballet (US) from 1999 to 2016, and six years as Artistic Director for the American Repertory Ballet in Princeton (US) from 1993 to 1999.

Much sought-after as a choreographer, Webre’s works appear in the repertoires of ballet companies globally. Webre’s new works for HKB, Romeo + Juliet, set in 1960s Hong Kong, and The Nutcracker, set in early twentieth century Hong Kong, world premiered in June and December 2021, respectively.



Music

After 14 years in the West, Sergei Prokofiev returned to Soviet Russia and composed his first full-length ballet score, Romeo and Juliet, commissioned by Serge Diaghilev. His score has a wonderful lyricism depicting Juliet’s innocence and Romeo and Juliet’s tender love for each other. A Czech company first staged the ballet, followed by the Kirov in 1940, and in 1946, the Bolshoi staged it a decade after Prokofiev had finished it. There were those who wanted a happy ending, so Prokofiev had to fight to retain Shakespeare’s tragic ending. Romeo and Juliet is now one of the most popular ballets today.



Costume Design

Mandy Tam has designed costumes for more than 80 productions in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Macao, Taiwan, Berlin, Singapore and other cities in North America, encompassing Chinese and Western opera, dance, drama, musical and physical theatre. In 2004 and 2015 she won twice the “Best Costume Award” from the Hong Kong Federation of Drama Societies. In 2008, she was awarded the Lee Hysan Foundation Fellowship of the Asian Cultural Council.



Set Design

One of the most prominent set and costume designers in Hong Kong, Ricky Chan is the Head of Theatre Design in The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Chan has designed for more than 150 productions of various genres, including opera, Chinese opera, Chinese dance, contemporary dance and drama, winning much critical acclaims. His most representative works include the award-winning Hong Kong Repertory Theatre’s Dr Faustus and the large-scale Cantonese opera production Shade of Butterfly and Red Pear Blossom. He has worked extensively in the theatre, commercial fields and interior design and actively promoted theatre arts education and given talks on set and costume design. He was the chairman of Hong Kong Association of Theatre Technicians and Scenographers from 2008 to 2012.



Lighting Design

Ruby Yau majored in theatre lighting technology at The Hong KongAcademy for Performing Arts and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. She is currently a stage lighting freelancer.



Original Lighting Design and Lighting Consultant

Billy Chan has collaborated with ELDT, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Dionysus Contemporary Theatre, choreographer Duncan Macfarland and Taiyuan Dance Troupe, Macao Cultural Centre and Trinity Theatre, in addition to pop concerts. He won Best Stage Art of the Year (Lighting Design) at the 2017 Shanghai Jing’an Modern Drama Valley One Drama Awards.

In April 2019, he was awarded Best Lighting Design at the Hong Kong Drama Awards for Chung Ying Theatre Company’s Rashomon and Outstanding Lighting Design at the Hong Kong Dance Awards for Hong Kong Dance Company’s Waiting Heart.



Dramaturge

Award-winning playwright, director and educator Yan Pat To is Artistic Director of Reframe Theatre. His works have been performed in Berlin, London, Munich, New York, Taipei, Mannheim, Seoul, Montreal and Hong Kong. His play A Concise History of Future China was the first ethnic Chinese play ever selected by Berliner Festspiele Theatertreffen Stuckemarkt and premiered at the 2016 Hong Kong New Vision Arts Festival.

Yan is currently Lecturer (Dramaturgy) at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and Chairman of the Literary Art committee for Hong Kong Arts Development Council.



Martial Arts Advisor

Hing Chao is the founder of Hong Kong Culture Festival, Executive Director of International Guoshu Association, and a leading researcher in martial studies. He co-founded Hong Kong Martial Arts Living Archive, the largest martial arts motion archive in the world, and has organised several internationally influential martial art exhibitions, most recently Kung Fu Motion: A Living Archive (Lausanne: 2018); Safeguarding the Community: An Intangible Cultural Heritage New Media Exhibition (2018), and Way of the Sword: Warrior Traditions in China and Italy (2021). Hing is also the founder of International Martial Studies Conference, and the founding editor of the book series Martial Studies and Hong Kong Martial Arts Research.

ACT l

Scene l

It is daybreak in Hong Kong during the early 1960s. The city has been tense in recent months as a bitter rivalry between two of Hong Kong’s elite families has escalated. 

Romeo, the scion of one of Hong Kong’s prominent families, wanders the streets of Hong Kong dreamily, nursing a broken heart—Rosaline has rejected him. He seeks the advice of his Sifu, or Master, who consoles him. 

As the street comes alive, Romeo is joined by his friends, Little Mak and Benny, and three fei nui (bad girls), and the market street is soon filled with life. With the arrival of Tai Po, a triad boss with ties to Romeo’s father’s rival, the animosity between the two powerful Hong Kong clans spills into public view. A fight breaks out. Romeo’s Sifu intervenes, and the crowd eventually disperses, revealing the bodies of two dead young men.

Scene ll

In her bedroom, Juliet, the only daughter of one of Hong Kong’s prominent tycoons, teases her Amah, or Nurse, affectionately. Juliet’s parents enter to proudly announce that they have arranged an auspicious match for her—she is to marry Mr Parker, a wealthy gweilo. Juliet is tentative about the prospect of marriage but receives Mr Parker graciously.

Scene lll

At a lavish gala dinner, Juliet is put on display for the assembled guests by her father. Disguised with masks, Romeo, Little Mak and Benny slip into the party undetected. Through the crowd, Romeo and Juliet spot each other and are both lovestruck. Tai Po (who is both Juliet’s father’s associate and Juliet’s mother’s lover) suspects the interloper and unmasks him. Enraged, Tai Po demands revenge, but Juliet’s father stops him. As the guests depart, Tai Po warns Juliet to stay away from Romeo.

Scene lV

Later that night, Romeo wanders to Juliet’s home and waits outside her balcony. Juliet appears, and the two declare their love for each other.

 

-Intermission-

 

ACT ll

Scene l

Romeo’s friends enjoy the afternoon on the streets of Hong Kong, gently mocking Romeo, who is delirious with love. A bride being photographed passes by. The friends are watching a film being made on the streets when Juliet’s Amah arrives with a letter for Romeo from Juliet agreeing to marry him. Romeo is overjoyed at the news.

Scene ll

Unable to have a traditional wedding with their families present, Romeo and Juliet secretly meet at a temple and commit themselves to each other. Romeo’s Sifu blesses their union, while the Amah looks on, weeping tears of joy and foreboding.

Scene lll

As the afternoon wanes, Little Mak and Benny wander into a mahjong parlour looking for fun. When Tai Po unexpectedly walks in, Little Mak taunts him. Romeo then enters, but since he is now secretly married to a member of Tai Po’s clan, he seeks peace. Little Mak and Tai Po continue to trade escalating insults, and a fight ensues. Romeo tries to come between them, inadvertently allowing Tai Po to kill Little Mak. In a cloud of rage over his friend’s death, Romeo kills Tai Po. Juliet’s parents come upon the scene, and Juliet’s mother is undone by the death of her lover, Tai Po.

 
ACT lll

Scene l

Romeo and Juliet spend the night together in Juliet’s bedroom. Romeo, now a fugitive for killing Tai Po, must flee as day breaks. Juliet’s parents enter—they have decided that she will marry Mr Parker the following day. Juliet protests, but her father brutally silences her. In despair, Juliet rushes off to seek help from Romeo’s Sifu.

Scene ll

The Sifu gives Juliet a potion that will make her appear to be dead. He promises that he will send a message to Romeo that Juliet is only sleeping and that after the funeral, but before the burial, she will awaken. Then she and Romeo will be reunited, and they can escape Hong Kong together.

Scene lll

Juliet returns home where she pretends to agree to marry Mr Parker. Left alone, she then swallows the potion and falls into a death-like slumber. On the morning of her wedding to Mr Parker, Juliet is found dead.

Scene lV

Not having received the Sifu’s message, Romeo believes Juliet to be actually dead and desperately rushes to her funeral. He kills Mr Parker so that he can be alone with Juliet’s body. In his despair, he kills himself with a knife. Juliet then awakens, is horrified to discover Romeo dead and kills herself with his knife.

‘Transposing the action from medieval Italy to 1960s Hong Kong is an ingenious idea which serves the dual purpose of appealing to
the local audience while offering a uniquely Hong Kong product for
international tours. Visually the production is stunning and there is
plenty of good dancing’

— South China Morning Post

Gallery

‘This new spectacular production of Romeo + Juliet is the most outstanding full-length narrative ballet with a Chinese or Hong Kong theme created by the company in the past two decades. Hopefully it will be shown on Hong Kong Ballet’s overseas tours in the future as travel returns to normal.’

— Hong Kong Economic Journal

Sponsors and Partners

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HKB US Tour | Chapel Hill, North Carolina



20-21.1.2023  
Memorial Hall, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
 
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