Let’s Review! The Old Globe’s Last Goodbye is a rock musical full of vitality

Jeremy Woodard as Tybalt and Brandon Gill as Benvolio with the cast of ‘The Last Goodbye.’ Matthew Murphy.

By Diana Saenger

The Old Globe’s “The Last Goodbye” is a rousing adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” conceived and adapted by Michael Kimmel and well directed by Alex Timbers. Kimmel said he came up with idea while listening to the music of the late singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley, who died in an accident.

The play begins with a dance/feud between the Montagues and Capulets, where swords slash through the air like lightening. Fight director Kate Waters and Emmy Award-nominee choreographer Sonya Tayeh (“So You Think You Can Dance”), create an energetic opening to the shortened story of Romeo and Juliet. Even Juliet’s nurse (Tonye Patano) assesses Romeo with a few up and down looks as she nods an approval for Juliet at the lively party.

Jay Armstrong Johnson, not new to playing Romeo, provides his combo singing/performing talents to create a viable suitor for the young beauty Juliet (Talisa Friedman).

Although Juliet is a might young to become so quickly infatuated with one guy, after the party where she is courted by and eventually kissed by Romeo, she’s hooked. The only problem is they come from feuding families and right off the bat, they know their attraction is doomed.

Friedman gives a solid performance as the young girl wanting to obey her father (who has already arranged a marriage partner for her), but unwilling to give up her Romeo. Her voice is a real standout on some of the tunes.

Romeo knows that blood makes hands unclean, but he can barely stay away from Juliet for even a moment. Their duet of Buckley’s “All Flowers in Time,” fits perfectly into this scenario.

Juliet (Talisa Friedman) and Romeo (Jay Armstrong Johnson) can’t deny their love in ‘The Last Goodbye,’ conceived and adapted by Michael Kimmel and directed by Alex Timbers. Matthew Murphy.

The scenic design of tall, pillared rock walls by Christopher Barreca, established the Shakespearean setting well. The ability to hide or enclose the performers among the columns added darkness to the production that fit well with the tragic story of star-crossed lovers.

Stephen Bogardus delivered a highly interesting Friar Laurence, which is no surprise considering his lengthy resume that includes several Broadway performances. Nancy Snow Carr, for the most part, was believable as the lovely Lady Montague, although I wanted to see a little more angst from her when things were not going well for her daughter, Juliet.

Of course Romeo and Juliet could never end differently than Shakespeare wrote it, but it’s certainly nice to see a different interpretation. Buckley’s songs suited the scenes written by Kimmel. Many tunes felt like they were written for the show. I particularly enjoyed the rendition of “Hallelujah.”

The dance ensemble did a great job, though some of their gestures pulled me out of the story.

“The Last Goodbye,” its title taken from one of the songs Buckley wrote, says it all, “I hate to feel the love between us die, but it’s over.” Fans of Shakespeare are secure in knowing that the love of his work is never over. “The Last Goodbye” is an awesome reminder of that. This production is entertaining, but for mature audiences. There are brief sexual parings and simulated violence.

‘The Last Goodbye’

When: Matinees, evenings to Nov. 3

Where: Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre at The Old Globe Theatre, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park in San Diego

Tickets: From $29

Box Office: (619) 234-5623

Website: TheOldGlobe.org

Related posts:

  1. Emotions tugged, tested in new Globe comedy about loss, Be a Good Little Widow
  2. Two brothers face difficult decisions in latest drama at The Old Globe
  3. Accusations, feuds fuel the history in ‘Divine Rivalry’
  4. Shakespeare Festival underway at The Globe in Balboa Park
  5. Let’s review! Some Lovers, now playing at The Old Globe, may disappoint true romantics

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Posted by Staff on Oct 23, 2013. Filed under A & E, Theater. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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