It is no secret that we at Spey are tremendously enthusiastic about arts in Washington, DC. It is our pleasure to festoon in lustrous pearl jewelry the fabulous ladies and gentlemen that grace the signature red carpet of the Kennedy Center, but we feel even more pride and purpose when we contribute to the very production of the performing arts. Ballet? It is our weakness – which explains why, when The Washington Ballet calls, Spey answers.
So it happened that our own founding chief executive, Paul Ashe, was asked to join the cast of The Washington Ballet’s production of John Cranko’s Romeo & Juliet. With a Prokofiev score so rich and evocative, with costumery that beautifully juxtaposes the mundane with the magisterial, and with choreography that pulls at the heartstrings, it is no wonder that Mr. Ashe enthusiastically accepted.
And what role was given to our fearless pearler? That of Romeo? No, too easy. Perhaps Mercutio or Tybalt? No, too obvious. A role was decided that embodies all the stoicism, heroism, and honor that we ourselves bestow on our champion, the humble oyster: that of ‘Guard No. 5.’ While we consider this a crucial figure to the central narrative, a dynamic and nuanced character that is integral to the star-crossed tragedy, some might dismiss it as merely a supernumerary or ‘extra.’ We will let the audience decide.
How to catch a performance of Romeo & Juliet
Join Spey for Opening Night at the Kennedy Center Opera House, or at any of the productions through Sunday, for a singularly enchanting evening under the exacting eye of Artistic Director Julie Kent. Brilliant dancers bring Verona to life in three acts of sumptuous storytelling; just remember to don your pearls and keep a finely-tuned eye on our dear Guard No. 5.
Image Credit: EunWon Lee and Gian Carlo Perez rehearsing the title roles, captured from the wings by Paul Ashe.