Once the singers had swords in their hands, Lefkowich spent time rehearsing the fight movements until they became second nature. At first people can easily become frustrated, he says, especially when he gives them the same feedback such as "relax your hands" again and again. Then, about a week into their three-and-a-half weeks of training, there are "the a-ha moments," he says. At one point during rehearsal, he says, Laurel Cameron looked up in amazement to exclaim, "Oh my God, I can fight!"
The trick with fight choreography, says Lefkowich, who also stage-directed the entire production, is to keep it looking fresh, heart-filled and action-packed. And, of course, to keep it safe. Working with singers presents an additional challenge, because their primary focus must be on maintaining breath. As he set fight movements, Lefkowich asked the singers to "mark" their voices (not sing full out), and when problems arose if singers panted during a roll to the floor, for example he adjusted the movement accordingly to save their breath.
The result? A duel scene so thrilling, apparently, that when an audience of 1,100 watched the dress rehearsal, they let out an audible gasp at the fights and ensuing death scenes. "Nothing," says Lefkowich, "is more satisfying than feeling that the audience is 100 percent engaged." Lea Marshall
The Virginia Opera's "Romeo & Juliet" runs at the Landmark Theater Nov. 25 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 27 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $20-$85, with $13 student rush tickets. Call (866) OPERA-VA.
Style Weekly's mission is to provide smart, witty and tenacious coverage of Richmond. Our editorial team strives to reveal Richmond's true identity through unflinching journalism, incisive writing, thoughtful criticism, arresting photography and sophisticated presentation.
We make sense of the news; pursue those in power; explore the city's arts and culture; open windows on provocative ideas; and help readers know Richmond through its people. We give readers the information to make intelligent decisions.