Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,

Milwaukee Ballet, "Cinderella"

On Saturday night the 24th, we went to the Marcus Center to see the
Milwaukee Ballet's production of "Cinderella," with choreography by
Director Michael Pink, to the music by Sergei Prokofiev.

The show had four performances with two casts. The cast we saw had also
performed Thursday night and had been given sterling reviews by the
local paper.

"Cinderella," as based on the classic fairy tale, does not have a lot of
drama, and nor does the ballet. However, it is a very sweet and
sentimental story, and provides an occasion for a lot of lovely dancing
and costuming. Pink's adaptation of the story draws from both old and
new versions of the tale. For example, Cinderella's magic is done by the
spirit of her mother, rather than a fairy. On the other hand, the
Stepmother's hairdo has a witchy grey streak derived from the Disney
animation character design. Pink preserves the tradition, started by Sir
Fredrick Ashton and Robert Helpman in the 1948 Sadlers Wells production,
of having the Stepsisters' roles danced by men, but also adds the
character of "Jack", the family's boy servant, who is likely drawn from
the character of "Buttons" who comes from the Cinderella pantomime.

Cinderella for this show was danced by Tatiana Jouravel, who was simply
beautiful all through the program. The only quibble we could make is
that, in the ballroom scene when she is attempting to flee as midnight
strikes, her body language could have been more expressive of her
agitation, but that might have been a directorial choice. She was well
partnered by Ryan Martin as the Prince, and their dances in the second
and third acts progressed nicely and naturally from acquaintance, to
fascination, to expression of love. Michael Linsmeier as Jack worked
well also, particularly in his first dance with Jouravel in the first
act. She is at first not sure if he, in trying to cheer her up, is
flirting with her or what, and initial awkwardness melts as she realizes
she has found a friend and ally.

Raven Wales was a formidable presence as the Stepmother, being able to
go from cool elegance to fiery dominance in a moment. Her strong,
linear, almost Flamenco-styled dances when bearing down on someone who
has displeased her showed her indomitable character very well, and Wales
pulled it off marvelously.

Of course the juicy roles in this show are the Stepsisters, and Marc
Petrocci and Darren Christian McIntyre were very effective and funny in
the parts. I liked very much that their roles were comic, but almost
entirely not slapstick, with the exception of a few impressive and
daring pratfalls. Costumes and makeup were appropriately tasteless, but
not too over the top. Particularly nice were character bits that showed
they were just as jealous and spiteful to one another as to Cinderella,
only reined in by their mother's eye. Also very nice were the
differences between the two. Each one has a dance in act Two where they
are trying to catch the Prince's eye. The first sister (Petrocci) has a
dance that is at least a bit coquettish. By contrast, I shall be think
of McIntyre's dance as definitive of "making a spectacle of oneself" for
quite some time to come.

Pink's mastery as both choreographer and storyteller comes out in the
dances given to the minor roles. In the first act, the Herald, full of
himself at delivering the Ball invitations, the Dressmaker, Shoemaker,
Wigmaker, Dancing Master and his accompanist, all have nicely
individualized vignettes. Likewise, the Spirits of the Ball Gown, Glass
Slippers, and the Mice all have thematically related but distinct pas de
deux, which are all very beautiful.

Costumes, designed by Peter Cazalet and made by the Ballet's costume
shop, were lovely; many very traditional with romantic tutus for women
and spangled jackets for the men, and the others very characterful, as
for Cinderella's family. The sets, designed by Bruce Brockman, were
minimal but provided attractive frames for the action. The orchestra,
under the direction of Andrews Sill, played Prokofiev's attractive score
exceptionally well.

In toto, we had a thoroughly enjoyable night at the Ballet, and we are
looking forward to the spring production of Peter Pan with great
anticipation.
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