One of the greatest secrets to a sold out show is good casting. For those in Lewisville who saw one of the three sold out shows at the MCL Grande from LakeCities Ballet Theatre’s “Cinderella,” it was clear that artistic director, Kelly Lannin, has the secret in the bag…or the pumpkin carriage!
We all know that Cinderella is a heartwarming romantic story…Did you know that it came out of Russia after the war ended? Originally intended for the Kirov, it was first presented by the Bolshoi right after World War II. Stalin celebrated with Cinderella at the Bolshoi in 1945 with the dramatic music by Sergei Prokofiev. Cinderella was a fable representing the victory of a wholesome Cinderella (the USSR) over her evil stepmother. Over seventy years later, Cinderella is still timeless…It’s a tale of class distinctions erased by the goodness and self-sacrifice of Cinderella. It makes sense that this ballet was developed post-war with its lush grandeur and poignant score.
When Prokofiev wrote his score for the ballet he said, “I see Cinderella not only as a fairy-tale character but also as a real person, feeling, experiencing and moving among us.”
LBT’s porcelain Cinderella (Madeline Hanly) showed grace and quiet strength…just how Prokofiev probably imagined. She was a delicate heroine who took her mistreatment frustrations up into the air with fine flourishes of Italian pas de chats.
Cinderella (Hanly) and her prince (Ruben Gerding) began their happily ever after by testing their balance, displaying exquisite technique as they rotated, spinning effortlessly in their complex choreography. Their controlled smooth turns in their classical pas de deux of the ballroom were emotionally powerful. Hanly’s expressive port de bras seeming to lift her higher…as luxuriant and flowing as creamy satin.
The Fairy Godmother (Michelle Lawyer) of sweetness and good will waved her magic wand as she spun effortless turns, her steps knitted the story together. The Fairy Godmother sends Cinderella off to the castle surrounded by the beautiful waltz of the Midnight Stars (the most beautiful costume).
The ballet also provided sheer entertainment…the hilarious shenanigans of the stepsisters (Carley Denton and Mikaela Seale) and their high society aspirations as they cavorted in the ballroom were downright slapstick. It is always a delight to watch Denton dance…Broadway is calling her name. Listening to the sound of roaring giggles, the evil stepsisters were very much to the liking of the young audience. The comic characters wouldn’t have been as funny without their supporting cast of the dapper dance master (Shannon Beacham), Cinderella’s Father (Chuck Denton), and the selfish Evil Stepmother (Denise Clarkston).
Lannin kept in mind that a ballet production of Cinderella would have great numbers of young children in the production AND in audience so she squeezed in as much fun for Cinderella as she could before midnight…condensing the ballet and Prokofiev’s three-act score to two acts and just under two hours without sacrificing ANY of the fantasy.
The complex patterning for the four soloist fairies (Kelsey Rhinehelder, Faith Jones, Julia Tiller and Chloe Davis), wove swiftly through the woodland forest victoriously spinning their pique turns together. It was as if the Fairy Godmother had them under her spell to dance in perfect accord blending naturally and seamlessly with the music.
It was a first-rate fairy cast with the Autumn Fairy (Tiller) as the most eye-catching…showing fine musical timing and lovely epaulement all while effortlessly dancing a dynamic solo.
In short, LBT’s Cinderella, pleased grownups and children alike…leaving them wanting more.
Lannin’s use of the younger children in her pre-professional program was brilliant. There were many roles for children…a young Cinderella, Mice, Court Jesters, Fairy Attendants, Dragonflies, Woodland Sprites and Time Keepers. It was sweet to see the expressions of proud parents in the audience…I was one of them! Congratulations LBT on ending the season on such a magical note!
Photo credit: Nancy Loch Photography