Review: THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG BALLET at Reynolds Performance Hall

Arkansas Festival Ballet delight with this visually stunning crowd pleaser

By: May. 31, 2023
Review: THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG BALLET at Reynolds Performance Hall

Review: THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG BALLET at Reynolds Performance Hall

Broadway World loves storytelling in all of the forms. We love plays, musicals, and we get starry eyed when we see the ballet. There is just something about watching graceful beauties glide across the stage to music that has been around for centuries. It is even more exciting when a director takes an idea and turns it into a magical storybook ballet that entrances the whole family. Based on the folktale "The Frog Prince," the novel "The Frog Princess" by E.D. Baker, and the 2009 Disney animated film "The Princess and the Frog," with music by Florence Price and William Grant Still, Artistic Director and Choreographer Rebecca Miller Stalcup of Arkansas Festival Ballet transformed Reynolds Performance Hall, 223 Beatrice St., in Conway, into the fabulous New Orleans for the tale THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG Saturday, May 27.  

Before the show, Director Stalcup thanked the audience for their support.  

“We thank you for all of your sponsorship this past year. As you know, tornado took out our facility March 31st, and we have been bouncing around for eight weeks... We thank everyone for reaching out to us and supporting us, and if you are not a patron and would like to be, of course, go to our website (arkansasfestivalballet.org). All the information is there.” 

Review: THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG BALLET at Reynolds Performance Hall

THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG opens with best friends Little Tiana (Lola Freeman) and Little Charlotte (Molly Trimble) as they play and share their dreams with one another. Shortly thereafter, the girls age quickly and Tiana (Keira Eady) is working at a restaurant while Charlotte (Lizzie Clark) is busy trying to find herself a prince. When Charlotte talks Big Daddy (Dennis Glasscock) into throwing a ball, he hires Tiana to cater, which is enough for her to start her own restaurant. When Prince Naveen (Paige Anthony Bryant) arrives into town, he and his Valet Lawrence (Lanphia Tarawally) runs into the Shadow Man (Brian Earles), who turns the prince into a frog and the valet into the prince. The prince, believing that Tiana is a princess, then tells Tiana that if she kisses him, he will fund the rest of her restaurant. However, when she kisses him, she turns into a frog as well. They both end up going through the swamp to find the cure to change them back and meet a whole slew of new friends, including Louis the Alligator (Lanphia Tarawally), Ray the Firefly (Farah Stalcup), Mama Odie (Sarah Tarawally), and many others.   

This ballet was amazing! The massive backdrops catch your eye right off the bat, and those elaborate costumes (Anthony McBride, Callie Vucci, September Rew) were breathtaking. Technical Director and Lighting Designer Mike Stacks created a colorful cohesiveness that delighted the visual senses.   

Review: THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG BALLET at Reynolds Performance Hall

The dancers told the story so well through their “extravagant dances, we had to Dig a Little Bit Deeper for our emotions,” according to my 13-year-old son Johnny. Though that song was not part of the repertoire, the sentiment still stands. Eady was a perfect Tiana. She was graceful, powerful, and her passions were relayed through her expressive dance. It was sweet to see the relationship between Eady and Clark. You could really tell that they had a history together. Also, the playful chemistry between Eady and Bryant was fun to see. You couldn’t help but root for them to get their dilemma solved. Glasscock’s Big Daddy had a....well....big presence while on stage. Though he wasn’t quite as dainty as the girls, he held his own with the entertainment value. And Earles’ Shadow Man brought a lot of mystic energy to the stage, making him one of my favorite bad guys. 

Review: THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG BALLET at Reynolds Performance Hall Arkansas Festival Ballet & Arkansas Academy of Dance will be moving into their new location at 518 Main Street in downtown Little Rock soon. The 7000+ square foot facility will house three dance studios, a black box theatre, a state-of-the-art flooring, a security system, and a designated super safe drive up and drop off point.  

Arkansas Academy of Dance will be hosting summer dance programs from June through August. You can register at ArkansasAcademyofDance.com, or if you have questions, call Rebecca at 501-786-0784. 

Cast members for THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG: Keira Eady, Lizzie Clark, Dennis Glasscock, Lola Freeman, Molly Trimble, Gideon West, Brian Earles, Sierra Carrillo, Ava Wylie, Avaleigh Stalcup, Olya Tryndyak, Avery Head, Catherine McCraw, Mary Olive Smith, Farah Stalcup, Amelia Alexander, Piper Funderburg, Hope Harvey, Nora Lancaster, Lucy Scott, Eliana Zohar, Paige Anthony Bryant, Lanphia Tarawally, Sara Tarawally, Sam Alexander, Lenore Shumake, Tess Trimble, Cru Carter, Margaret Grobmyer, Avery Shipley, Willamina Wilson, Amayzah Burks, and Ainsley Cathey. 

Review: THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG BALLET at Reynolds Performance Hall



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