Last night's performance of R&J at Sunderland was preceeded by a minute's silence in memory of the Queen Mum.
The R&J sets and costumes were sumptuous, the colours glorious.
The performance itself started in a fairly subdued way and I did wonder if it was because the sets took up a large part of the stage, forcing the dancers into small steps, limited movement and almost lethargic movement. However, one quickly forgot about this as the show built up momentum. Robert Parker and recently-made principal Rachel Peppin were the young lovers and they were a beautifully matched pair. Peppin is exactly right for Parker, both dancers smallish and neatly made which promises a very good future partnership for the company.
As usual Parker's dancing was immaculate and his acting as good as ever. I don't think Peppin is a natural Juliet - her real abilities are in character parts - and she did take a little while to get into the role, but by the balcony scene she managed to get there and in the final death scene there couldn't have been a dry eye in the house. But I'd really like to see her with Parker in Fille or Pigeons.
Whoever choreographed the fight scenes deserves an Oscar. The flashing sword-play was breathtaking, particularly on such a cramped stage. How there were no injuries, I will never know.
That night we also had a chance to see Michael Revie as Mercutio. What a dancer! Tightly controlled, beautiful dancing plus a totally believable and appealing character. A great asset for BRB. I believe he earned the greatest applause at the end.
All in all a glittering evening with all the usual BRB suspects in the castlist. Marion Tait deserves a special mention for a dramatically distraught Lady Capulet keening over her son's dead body.
One, I think, to watch out for is Kosuke Yamamoto, small of stature, sturdy of body, but a great character actor. I remember his gypsy boy in Pigeons last year and in R&J he leads the mandolin players with great flair and joie de vivre.
And, of course, for all those Sunderland United supporters out there in the audience, the programme came with a complimentary CD of the Knights' Dance, the club's anthem. I bet they won't get that in Bradford .