BWW Reviews: Maine State Ballet's CINDERELLA Glitters
With its new production of Cinderella, the Maine State Ballet, one of only a handful of professional classical dance organizations in the state, proved the saying that "everything is beautiful at the ballet." Linda MacArthur Miele's staging of the Prokofiev classic played to sold out houses, comprised in good part by rapt youngsters, awed at the magic of the timeless fairy tale.
Miele tells the story in simple, heartfelt terms. Her choreography is wisely scaled to the strengths of her company, and while it is not laden with fireworks, it does offer its share of glitter. The fairy dances of Act I are well tailored to the individual dancers' personalities, as are the Spanish and Persian sequences of Act III. The grand pas de deux for Cinderella and her prince is eloquently lyrical, and the choreography for the corps de ballet colorful and precise. The comic dances, here performed by women rather than in drag as in the Ashton staging, are humorous and colorful without descending to camp. Some of the mime sequences, however, seem simplified and lack dramatic flair.
Prokofiev's lush and moody score, in which one can hear hints of his earlier Romeo and Juliet, has darker implications than Miele's mostly sunny and optimistic vision, but the company pulls out all the stops to make this happily ever after tale irresistible.
Gail Csoboth's scenery, consisting of several atmospherically painted drops, captures the contrast between the moonlight splendor of the Prince's gardens and the drabness of Cinderella's hearth. Her costumes are lavishly executed, layered in color and texture, and the Act I finale with Cinderella's shimmering pumpkin coach "pulled" by seven white horses elicited wonder. Frederick Bernier's lighting completes the ambiance, bathing the stage first in golden color and then in sparkling moonlight. The sound design (uncredited) is beautifully balanced, and though one misses a live orchestra, this recorded accompaniment is full-bodied and perfectly cued.
Principal dancers Janet Davis and Glenn Davis danced Cinderella and Prince Charming. Ms. Davis brought wistfulness and an elegant lyricism to the role, using her lovely arabesques and port de bras to poetic effect. An attentive partner, Mr. Davis gave noble dignity to the somewhat one-dimensional character of the Prince. Together they executed a series of breathtaking lifts with ease and aplomb, providing a starry finish to the ballet.
In the character roles of the stepsisters, Rebecca Galli and Diane Saito brought strong physical presences and broad wit; Christine Marshall was an overbearing stepmother, and James Herrera was a genial court jester. Among the other soloists, Veronica Druchniak made a commanding Fairy Godmother; Katie Farwell danced with élan as the Winter Fairy, as did Rhiannon Pelletier as the Persian Princess. The soloist who made the strongest impression, however, was the young Maiki Saito, whose Prince of Persia strode onto the stage with such panache that it became his alone for a brief five minutes. An athletic, technically secure dancer with an abundance of attitude and aura, he is a young dancer to watch!
When the curtain came down on the joyous wedding pair, the magic seemed to linger in the hall. One little girl, to her mother's consternation, ran up to the footlights and peered under the fallen curtain, wondering where to the fairy tale characters had vanished. Maine State Ballet must be congratulated for keeping classical dance alive and vibrant and inspiring new audiences in Midcoast Maine.
Photos Courtesy of Maine State Ballet
Cinderella runs until April 13, 2014 at The Maine State Ballet Theatre, 348 Route One, Falmouth, ME. 04105 The rest of the season includes, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Firebird and Bach Concerti, and The Nutcracker. For information call 207-842-0800 or visit mainestateballet.org.