Arts Are Essential | April 16 – 23

What We’re Checking Out in Arts & Entertainment This Week

PHOTO: Sky UK | South Pasadena News | Jessie Buckley and Josh O’Connor in the National Theatre's Romeo and Juliet on Great Performances, PBS.

After premiering in the UK a few weeks ago, American audiences can now stream the National Theatre’s “Romeo & Juliet” starring Josh O’Connor (The Crown) and Jessie Buckley (Fargo, Chernobyl). This show was in rehearsals at the National when the pandemic hit last year but instead of scrapping the show, they decided to film it using the theater itself as the setting. The result is a stylized film that celebrates the theatrical imagination, moving from the stripped-down aesthetic of a rehearsal into a cinematic journey that embraces the architecture of the theater space and varied backstage spaces of the National’s Lyttelton Theatre. In this contemporary rendering of Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy, a company of actors in a shuttered theater bring to life the tale of two young lovers who strive to transcend a world of violence and hate.

The production is directed by Shakespeare Theatre Company Artistic Director Simon Godwin and is adapted for television by Emily Burns. The ensemble cast features Fisayo Akinade as Mercutio, Shubham Saraf as Benvolio, Deborah Findlay as the Nurse, David Judge as Tybalt, Alex Mugnaioni as Paris, Ellis Howard as Sampson, Tamsin Greig as Lady Capulet and Lucian Msamati as the Friar, Adrian Lester as the Prince, Lloyd Hutchinson as Lord Capulet, Colin Tierney as Lord Montague and Ella Dacres as Peta.

“Shakespeare’s potential for reinvention is endless,” said director Simon Godwin. “Over 17 days of filming, the company was united by a sense of shared exploration. As well as being given intimate access to the thoughts and feelings of characters, we were able to bring to life remarkable, forgotten spaces at the National Theatre. Desire, dreams and destiny came together to make Romeo & Juliet sing in an entirely new way.” Great Performances: Romeo & Juliet premieres Friday, April 23 at 9 p.m. on and the PBS Video app.

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PHOTO: Dancing Camera | South Pasadena News | Betsy McBride and Jacob Clerico in Indestructible Light for ABT.

Segerstrom Center for the Arts and American Ballet Theatre bring us “Uniting In Movement, an exciting project bringing 18 dancers together for safe collaboration and exhilarating performance. ABT, America’s National Ballet Company, has been in residence at the Center since March 22, rehearsing this new program that will receive its world premiere before a live audience on Sunday, April 25 in Segerstrom Hall, followed by streaming on demand from May 12 – 26. “Uniting in Movement” is comprised of three works by contemporary choreographers, each with very personal and unique visions for the future of ballet: Jessica Lang, Lauren Lovette, and Darrell Grand Moultrie. The program will also pay homage to ABT’s classical heritage with “Grand Pas Classique”, a virtuosic showcase of ballet technique.

“These creations reflect a time of recalibration on how we create and deliver new work, reinvent how to gather together to create, and what it means to use this art form to lift us all, artist and audience alike,” said Kevin McKenzie, ABT Artistic Director. “Lauren’s use of classical vocabulary for dynamic effect of empowerment, Darrell’s facile use of classical technique fused with classic jazz, and Jessica’s joyous, reverent nod to Tony Bennett’s fabulous voice, contrasted with a classic pas de deux, exemplify the vibrant spirit of American Ballet Theatre.”

Complete performances will be recorded on Friday and Saturday, April 23 and 24, and streamed on demand May 12 – 26. Tickets are $25 per household. ABT will give a final performance of Uniting in Movement before a live audience on Sunday, April 25 at 1:30 pm. Seating will be limited and available in two-person, safely distanced pods. Ticket prices start at $50. Complete information and tickets for on-demand access and the live performance are available now online at or by calling the box office at (714) 556-2787 weekdays between 10am and 2pm.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Center Theatre Group | South Pasadena News | Prentice Powell performs in the second episode of Not a Moment, But a Movement titled “Black Nourishment.”

Center Theatre Group, The Fire This Time Festival and Watts Village Theater Company present the second episode of “Not a Moment, But a Movement” titled Black Nourishmentavailable on demand through June 15, 2021. The video will be offered free to the public April 15 through April 30 in honor of National Poetry Month after which it will remain free to Center Theatre Group subscribers and supporters and cost $10 for all others.

Part of a series of events that amplifies and centers Black artists, the second episode of Not a Moment But a Movement, “Black Nourishment,” is directed by Tyrone Davis and Bruce A. Lemon Jr and introduced by Ron Cephas Jones. “Black Nourishment” features the jazz-tinged hip-hop music of LA-based Sugi Dakks performing with Jarren Heidelberg (drums), Josh Howard (bass), Aaron Mastin (keys) and Terall Whitehead (guitar) as well as the work of spoken word artists and muralists from throughout the United States. Three Los Angeles-based spoken word artists, Tru Sound, Yazmin Monet Watkins and Alyesha Wise, perform on the stage of the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Other spoken word artists include Atlanta’s Royce Hall and Jali Ajani Nafula; Cleveland’s Siaara Freeman and Chris Webb; and Oakland’s Prentice Powell and Shawn William – each performing in front of a mural from their own hometown including works by Donald Black Jr, Andre “Natty Rebel” Jones, Brandan “BMike” Odums, Sachi Rome and Keli Walker. Available at

PHOTO: Lineage Performing Arts Center | South Pasadena News | Hilary Thomas and Brittany Daniels in a scene from Next To Normal

Lineage Performing Arts Center is partnering with the world famous Gamble House to present a Covid-safe Drive-in performance of “Next to Normal” which continues its run through April 25. The musical explores how one suburban household copes with crisis and mental illness. Dad’s an architect; Mom rushes to pack lunches and pour cereal; their daughter and son are bright, wise-cracking teens, appearing to be a typical American family. And yet their lives are anything but normal because the mother has been battling manic depression for 16 years. Next to Normal takes audiences into the minds and hearts of each character. This deeply moving piece of theater combines intense drama with an energetic pop/rock score and Lineage’s athletic choreography. “Next to Normal is an emotional powerhouse that addresses such issues as grieving a loss, ethics in modern psychiatry, and suburban life. Tickets at