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    Fun facts: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical Cinderella was the first Broadway musical ever made for television, and it first premiered in 1957. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet initially commissioned ‘A Cinderella Story’ nearly half a century later in 2001. After this enterprising evolution of groundbreaking ideas exchanged through the years, Cinderella has been transported from a distinct world of balls and glass slippers to a fresh, contemporary take on the Disney canon.

    Finally, for this Valentine’s Day weekend 2015, San Fransisco-based choreographer Val Caniparoli’s re-envisioned fairytale is making its Louisville premiere in a grand way; and you won’t want to miss the spellbinding results. It is no wonder that Val Caniparoli’s tour de force talent is sought after all over the world.

    For those less adventurous and the ballet-wary who fear an outdated, archaic evening, your concerns could not be more unfounded. Because in progressive Val Caniparoli’s consummate hands, “A Cinderella Story” is saturated with the electrifying be-bop swing of big band music, the alluring mist of 1950’s dreamer hazy fancy, along with tongue-in-cheek plot twists that keep the story novel with non-stop entertainment. If you question how jazz, a 1950s stylistic feel, and intertwined moments from Richard Rodgers’ songbook can feasibly connect, it is a testimony to the visionary orchestration by Ron Paley.

    Just wait until you are surprised with what becomes of the carriage ride, the ball (with one of the most striking sets of the whole piece), the glass slipper, and when you come across hoola hoop torment by the stepsisters. Preview guarantee: You will love the dog played boisterously by Rob Morrow, who cleverly outsmarts his rival connivers, all with sprightliness and total commitment to the role. Also of standout note is an epic garden party with all the woodland animals that ends Act I in which anyone would dream up a fairy godmother just to garner a charmed invite. Scenic and Costume Designer Sandra Woodall’s depth of vision flourishes in this production, where every slightly differing detail serves a purpose: to create a harmonious, vibrant ambiance, full of pops of color and wonder.

    The Louisville Ballet's A Cinderella Story

    Helen Daigle as the evil stepmother figure commands the stage with such cavalier sauciness that you cannot help but delight in her refreshing, fiery portrayal. This stepmother is a 1950’s self-aggrandizing social climber, who reminds you of her aspired status with every conspicuous, ambitious swivel of her hips; all delicious drama and spectacle. Meanwhile, stepsisters Christy Corbitt Miller and Emily Reinking O’Dell somehow simultaneously manage to display limber poise while still making excellent use of physical comedy.

    Natalia Ashikhimina as lead role Nancy, and 1950’s Cinderella protagonist, plays a nicely subverted twist on the Disney princess. This Cinderella is not afraid to fight back, as demonstrated in a superbly winding brawl sequence where Natalia Ashikhimina reveals a welcome sense of gumption. Even when relegated to menial labor, Ashikhimina shows that our heroine is determined to complete the task on her own terms; finding the joy in the tedious, and overcoming her circumstances. When she falls for the princely character Bob, starring Mark Krieger with brimming charisma and effortless, driving agility, even without words, there becomes no doubt that these two are truly meant to be. You root for them to find their way to each other as if it was your first time seeing a Cinderella tale.

    The Louisville Ballet's A Cinderella Story

    Closing the final act commences the most passionate pas de deux; a lover’s fabled liaison, incandescent under the light of moon, waxy and full of promise. The enchanting mystery conveyed through yearning, sinuous movements, emulates authentic love that lasts beyond the pages of fairytales. One where silhouettes glinting against the astrophysical backdrop could be any hopefuls swaying with quixotic desires. Here, choreography and poignancy take the focal point, arresting the audience with stunning simplicity. It’s one of the few moments of the production that tangibly resonates as magically timeless.

    The program guide offers an abridged synopsis to be able to follow this 1950’s jazzy adaptation of Cinderella, but why spoil the fun? Let yourself get lost in relishing this playful, chic, and smart show that will enrapture you from the moment you hear the 1950’s announcer first set the scene. If you have never had the joy of seeing The Louisville Ballet, this would be the perfect opportunity to do so.

    The Louisville Ballet’s A Cinderella Story will be playing two more performances today, February 14th at 2:00 p.m. and tonight at 8:00 p.m. in Whitney Hall at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. The show runs for approximately two hours and 20 minutes. Ticket prices start at $32.00. Call (502) 584-7777 or click here to treat yourself and your true love to the elegant enchantment of the ballet!

    Whether you want to rekindle or ignite romance with your valentine, feel like the belle of the ball with your best friend, or impart to your children the spectacular ballet marriage of grace and revelry, do yourself a favor and discover the magic Val Caniparoli has sparked. Indulge in greatness and fantasy. 

    The Louisville Ballet's A Cinderella Story

    Cover Photo: Courtesy of The Louisville Ballet's facebook page/Sam English; Logo: Courtesy of The Louisville Ballet's facebook page; Third Photo: Courtesy of The Louisville Ballet's facebook page/Sam English; Fourth Photo: Courtesy of The Louisville Ballet's facebook page/Sam English; Fifth Photo: Courtesy of The Louisville Ballet

    Julie Lamb's picture

    About Julie Lamb

    Curly-haired owner of one massive sweet tooth, believer of Harry Potter and Disney fairytales, and a fierce lover of all things literary and the arts.

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