Press Release

For Immediate Release:      August 12, 2016                                        

Bellevue, WA – CITY OPERA BALLET  presents:


Romeo and Juliet

World Premiere





Orchestra Bellevue


Choreography by Amber Willett    |    Original Score by Jon Steinmeier

Performance Dates

October 8-9, 2016

Saturday 7:30 pm & Sunday 3 pm



The Theatre at Meydenbauer Center

11100 NE 6th Street, Bellevue 98004



Available at the door and at Brown Paper Tickets


Adults $37, Seniors $27, Students $18, VIP Seating:  $45


Info:  425.455.1345


In her World Premiere contemporary ballet of Romeo and Juliet, Guest Director and Choreographer,

Amber Willett, reveals captivating lesser-known aspects of Shakespeare’s most famous story of  young love.  Unique to Willett’s production are elements of the ballet and undertones of the story which have beenrarely staged, for instance Juliet as a beloved only child, Tybalt as a dear friend to the Nurse, and the intimate web of relations often ignored,  including the slain Mercutio, cousin to the Prince who ordered civil peace.

The original score by Los Angeles film composer, Jon Steinmeier, is performed by the company’s own Orchestra Bellevue, conducted by Music Director, Philip Tschopp.  This World Premiere of music represents the first all new score  to be commissioned for a full length Romeo and Juliet since Prokofiev’s Op. 64 in 1935.  Moving, cinematic and highly percussive, Steinmeier’s score interprets the plot/scenario and themes of Willett’s emotional, accessible portrayal of the elation of first love, the stress of family discord and the weight of grief. 

Set among spring blossoms and subtle pan-asian design created by Bruce Jackson,  this intimate ballet  looks beyond the story’s well-known  tragic moments as the characters  experience life’s first love, death in the family, and filial obligation.  Beyond her loyalty to the story’s remarkable contrasts of love and hate, youth and age, a funeral on a wedding day, Willett enhances the teenage lovers as voyagers across the barriers that separate the forbidden:  not only loves, but also creeds, cities and our own mortalities.  Rather than sweet, the death uniting two hearts that could not be joined in lifeis instead a challenge:  to wring life out of death by seeking concord on a social/political level, within the family, among those who love  without fully understanding one another.

Ballet Bellevue (CAST):

David Strong returns to his native Bellevue to star in the lead role of Romeo; Alison Epsom stars as Juliet in her first performance with Ballet Bellevue; Company Dancers Kyle Johnson (Mercutio), Lorraine Constantine  (the Nurse), Nathan Cook (Paris) and  Mireÿa Mascarello, Julie Heffner, Tanya Ariana Bendis, Victoria Gutierrez, Lionel Flynn and Julian Green.  Dancers new to the company include Christopher Engelbrecht, Charles Gordon, and Desiree Valdovinos.

Orchestra Bellevue boasts players selected from the finest of the region’s instrumentalists (members of the PacificNorthwest Ballet Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, and Aubun Symphony), as well as our community’s top student musicians, conducted by COB Music Director, Philip Tschopp.

CITY OPERA BALLET is a non-profitorganization based in downtown Bellevue, dedicated to bringing the finest professional arts to the region through performances of opera and ballet with live orchestra featuring Ballet Bellevue, Bellevue City Opera and Orchestra Bellevue.  This rare treasure in our city combines a passion for excellence, dedication to present outstanding regional talent, with a commitment to fully live musical presentation of classical works, contemporary masterpieces and new works by Northwest artists.  Recent projects include Giselle (2014), Stravinsky’s Firebird (2014), Nutcracker (2014),  Opera + Ballet (2015), The Mariage of Figaro (2015), andHandels Messiah:  Ballet/Oratorio (2015).  Future productions include Cosi fan tutte (August 2016),  Amber Willett’sRomeo & Juliet (October 2016), followed by Jennifer Porter’s The Snowman (Thanksgiving weekend 2016), Firebird (March 2017) and La Traviata (August 2017). 

AMBER WILLETT moved from Colorado to Seattle, Washington to join the Professional Division Program at Pacific Northwest Ballet School in 2007, after which she danced with Sonia Dawkins/Prism Dance Theater, Olivier Wever’s Whim W'him, Drybones Artist Collective, and Terpsicore Dance Company in Phoenix, Arizona.

In 2011-2012, she served as Choreographer-in-Residence in Tuebingen, Germany with Inztanz, International Center for Dance, where her work, Clepsydra-Gezeiten premiered at the Landestheater and Stadtmuseum of Tuebingen. In June 2015, she was invited to perform her choreography in London, England, for the launch of the Haven London, a new space to support the arts and creative industries.

She currently teaches dance at Pacific Northwest Ballet School and Olympic Ballet Theater, and serves as Guest Artistic Director/Choreographer for the CITY OPERA BALLET upcoming World Premiere of Romeo and Juliet.  

JON STEINMEIER, an eclectic composer and multi-instrumentalist, grew up in Jefferson City, Missouri,  where he was the snare section leader of his marching drumline and a competitive classical pianist. Jon continued his study in piano, percussion, and composition of music, graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree in Composition, and winner of the  2001 Josephine Halverson Memorial Composition Prize.

Now based in Los Angeles, Jon continues to compose for film, TV, and live performance; producing orchestral, hip hop, pop, rock, comedic and dramatic scoring.  He also  performs as a pianist, drummer, percussionist, bass player, and singer for live and recorded projects.   has been honored to work with Andrew Bird, Mucca Pazza, Rachel Ries, Opus Orange,Mavis Staples, Tim Booth, Duke Otherwise, and as band leader for Scot Nery’s Boobie Trap show.