A Star-Crossed, Cross-Atlantic Lover

Lamb as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (photo by Johan Persson, courtesy Royal Opera House)

It’s hard to believe that Kenneth MacMillan’s iconic Romeo and Juliet turns 50

this year: It hasn’t aged a day! In fact, the production is still danced by many ballet companies around the world. To celebrate the work’s golden anniversary, The Royal Ballet—which debuted MacMillan’s Romeo (starring Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev) in 1965—is kicking off its fall season with the classic. But those who aren’t in London don’t have to miss out. The Royal Opera House’s Live Cinema Season, which broadcasts performances from Covent Garden to movie theaters around the globe, will playMacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet on September 22, featuring Royal Ballet principal Sarah Lamb as Juliet. Dance Spirit asked Lamb to talk a little about the role.

On her favorite scene: “The most wonderful part of the whole ballet is the music in Juliet’s death scene. I can’t figure out how Prokofiev was able to get inside Juliet’s mind, but he did! It’s incredible to be onstage backed up by a full orchestra that’s so closely describing your thoughts, feelings, fears and hopes.”

That time when stagecraft went wrong… “During one performance, the glass that holds Juliet’s poison had somehow cracked. So when I took a sip, a few chunks of broken glass dropped into my mouth. My eyes went so wide with fear and shock—though it probably looked really realistic. I didn’t know what to do! In MacMillan’s version, Juliet almost vomits after swallowing the poison, so I used that movement to spit out the glass.”

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