BWW Review: Festival Ballet Providence's Magical CINDERELLA Casts a Spell at The Vets
Festival Ballet Providence (FBP) creates pure magic with its luminous production of Sergei Prokofiev's Cinderella. Winthrop Corey, co-founding artistic director of FBP, choreographed this piece to perfection, melding intricate, classical dancing with wonderful whimsy and humor. FBP's Cinderella is a production certain to delight both the discerning ballet aficionado and the young theatergoer experiencing live dance for the first time.
Like all proper fairy stories, FBP's Cinderella weaves a bittersweet note between "once upon a time" and "happily ever after." This weekend, that note comes in the form of a fond farewell. Vilia Putrius takes her final bow with this production and will retire from the company after Sunday's matinee.
Putrius is one of FBP's most beloved performers, a graceful and gracious dancer who intelligently expresses each character she portrays while maintaining exquisite form and technique. She delights as Cinderella, presenting an unaffected winsomeness that reads clearly to the back of the house. Putrius' dancing is, as ever, flawless and captivating, both in Cinderella's wistful solo scenes and in the sweeping, tender pas de deux that highlight her character's romance with Prince Charming. From impeccably balanced pointe work and complicated step sequences to lighter-than-air leaps and polished pirouettes, Putrius is radiant each time she steps into the spotlight.
Attempting to steal that spotlight are Alex Lantz and Boyko Dossev as the thoroughly entertaining Ugly Stepsisters. Lantz and Dossev revel in their roles, inhabiting their larger-than-life personas with skillful comedic timing and side-splitting expressions. Their diverting and disastrous first-act dance lesson - attended by a hilariously horrified David DuBois as the Dancing Master - is surpassed only by their absurd conduct at the royal ball, where Ty Parmenter's nimble Jester just barely reins in their awkward exuberance. Corey well incorporates the Stepsisters' antics in Cinderella and the humor never overpowers a scene; rather, comedy serves as an integral part of the production's storytelling.
Company dancer Alan Alberto makes for a charming Prince and he stretches as an actor with this piece, warmly interacting with the guests at the royal ball, recoiling in bewildered astonishment when encountering the Stepsisters, and showing genuine distress and despair during the search for the "mysterious princess." Alberto's entire being - his bearing, his countenance, even the light in his eyes - transforms convincingly at the Prince's first glimpse of Cinderella.
Of course, Cinderella needs her Fairy Godmother if she is to attend the royal fête, and Kirsten Evans is a most regal enchanted benefactor. Evans makes the Godmother's rapid and intricate steps an innate expression of her fay nature, and her skillful extensions and stately poise lend a frisson of magic to her elegant, ethereal entrance at the ball.
FBP's production also showcases superb ensemble numbers, from grand, majestic ballroom scenes to the fairies' transporting kaleidoscope of shapes and colors as they bestow gifts on Cinderella. Corey's costumes dazzle throughout the performances, with jewel-toned fairy frocks and glittering headdresses outshining even the aristocratic ball guests' finery and Cinderella's radiantly enchanted gown contrasting her tattered, dusty everyday skirts. Mihailo Djuric's set pieces, complimented by backdrops from Mobile Ballet, create an ideal "picture book" quality for this production, with each new scene feeling like the turn of a fairy-tale page. Festival Ballet Providence's Cinderella delivers excellence in every particular, and this staging is a truly joyous piece of storytelling.
Festival Ballet Providence's Cinderella plays a limited engagement at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium through Sunday, May 14, 2017. Ticket prices range from $23-85 and group rates are available upon request. To purchase tickets, call (401) 421-2787 or order online at www.thevetsri.com.
Top: Cast of Festival Ballet Providence's Cinderella (photo by Thomas Nola-Rion)
Bottom: Vilia Putrius as Cinderella (photo by Dylan Giles)