Matthew Bourne to Stage Gay Romeo and Juliet Ballet


Matthew Bourne, who dazzled audiences with his all-male version of Swan Lake in 1995, plans to tackle Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in an upcoming production entitled Romeo, Romeo, the Sunday Times reports.

Bourne says that the adaptation presents challenges due to the male-female dynamic of traditional dance partnering:

“It’s more to do with dancing than with sexuality. A male dancer, whether he’s gay or straight, fits into a relationship with a female partner very happily. Getting away from that, making a convincing love duet, a romantic, sexual duet, for two men that is comfortable to do and comfortable to watch — I don’t know if you can. I’ve never seen it done…I have a way of approaching it so as to make it — I hate to say ‘acceptable’, it’s a terrible thing to say — but so that people don’t run screaming from the theatre. I let them find their own way with it, take it as far as they want in their own heads.”

Bourne plans to begin rehearsals early next year after a summer of improvisation and testing of scenes with small groups of dancers.


  1. says

    Am an avid fan of Bourne’s work, beginning with his compelling and captivating “Swan Lake.” But, to be perfectly clear, it was not and “all male” company; the corps de ballet (the swans) were all male (and, um, hot). There were plenty of women in the company, in the female roles…

  2. Dan says

    This was reported earlier in the New Yorker, in their biographical piece on him… a good read.

  3. Mike in the Tundra says

    I’ve seen Bourne’s “Swan Lake” and was blown away. Can’t wait for “Romeo, Romeo.”

  4. says

    I can’t fathom his reluctance to claim the mantle of ‘great producer’. He made the transitions work with Swan Lake and other productions, which we theatre queens immediately recognized as being historically male and female; yet he translated and re-wrote it for a Billy Elliot was gay or straight, until Adam Cooper reprised his role as the black swan and took that leap that ended the movie.

    Matthew Bourne is a genious.

  5. Kit says

    Didnt he also do the current Edward Scissorhands? Im seeing that in May and ive heard its good.

  6. FizziekruntNT says

    I’ve not been fortunate enough to see Bourne’s Swan Lake, but here is a link to the YouTube set. This is one of about 5 I think. Stunning…

  7. says

    Quotations in this Times piece were in fact lifted from Joan Acocella’s wonderful profile of Bourne, without acknowledging her or the New Yorker. Classy!

  8. Jake says

    Yes, he did do the current Edward Scissorhands… I saw it in November and it was amazing. The choreography along with the set, costumes and effects pulled it all together. Each character had their own story that you were able to follow – including a boy who was trying to win the affections of other boys.

  9. Brian says

    My dear friend Dan saw Edward Scissorhands in LA recently. He was blown away. Dan is quite rarely blown away, so I’d take that as proof positive that it’s awesome.

    See it.

  10. sean says

    personally, i prefer “romeo and julio… down by the schoolyard.” yeah, that’s it. a ballet done to the songs of paul simon. maybe even throw a little “west side story” in there to really mix it up. yawn.

  11. Keith says

    Here in the Twin Cities, this amazing choreographer named Myron Johnson already did a version with his ballet troupe “Ballet of the Dolls.” It was called Romet and Julio. It followed the basic plot line but with two same-gender couples. One of each pair died of a mysterious disease – and it was all choreographed to the first album by Enigma. Glorious stuff! But, I’m also looking forward to Bourne’s version – it will be hot!

  12. says

    Bourne productions are amazing, so visually striking and dynamic. Romeo, Romeo will be no different…

    Lexxicuss already mentioned it, but the finale to Billy Elliot really reached out for the production and ballet as a whole. So many people who saw it were immediately impressed.

    Bourne’s great.