I took time on Saturday June 2nd out of my busy busy schedule of like, designing my new line of fake eyelashes to go see the Missouri Ballet Theatre’s performance of ‘Cinderella’– the classic tale of a bad mommy, some ugly siblings, and one perfect perfect princess made famous by the work of others and one mastermind manager. Also shoes. I can totally, like, relate to that. ‘Cinderella’ is an empowering story with lessons for all of us: fashion is the most important thing in shaping your destiny, honest hard work doesn’t win you any favor, and it’s normal for family to take advantage of each other.
We all know that when you explode on the scene you should start with a bang– something like a tape of explicit nature is really the proper way to go. So the beginning of act one had a pretty slow start in my educated opinion. I wanted something hot and shocking and it seemed like a lot of pedestrian movement and small gesture. I know there’s something about. you know, establishing character and story but if you aren’t giving me pole dancing, I’ll at least take some ballet. Maybe the step-sisters and step-mother just weren’t capable of it- I know how that goes. My sisters can’t do anything! There were however a few moments here and there where Prunella (Kourtney) and Griselda (Khloe) danced well and it would have been nice to see them used to greater effect beyond being the butts of a constantly running joke. I’m obviously ‘the butt’ in the situation. It’s just so unfair- they’re totally edited/choreographed to look that way. As for Robert Philander in his portrayal as the Evil Stepmother, he completely commanded the stage with even the smallest gesture and facial expression. This was ridiculous as we all know that the Mom in the picture has to put a lot more effort into being seen and heard, and usually does it in loud offensive ways. Mr. Philander was way too scene-stealing (in the best way possible).
Cinderella, danced by Rachel Kilsavage, was of course hard at work and seemed to be sweeping for the entire first half the act. Hey, there are worse things people have done to make a living- I should know. Once she finally began dancing, she seemed transported to an imaginary world where the broom was a handsome man sweeping her off her feet. Get real sister! It’s the good guys that are imaginary so stop doing piquee arabesques over and over again and get back to work! And stop hanging out with rats (like small children or Kanye West). Stick with the family’s team of stylists, particularly Robert Poe as the jeweler, who brought panache as well as technique to the stage. Dexter Bishop as the dancing master was clearly one of those teachers who delights in himself more than passing on information to students. While his own performance was an indulgence of pretension, footwork, and more pretension, it obviously didn’t take with the sisters. Owell, it makes for better entertainment– and a possible reality spin-off- that way.
Cinderella is clearly a fairy tale because the pretty young girl is kind to an old ugly person- the Fairy Godmother in disguise. Who has time for the elderly? Dancer Caitlin Birt as said Godmother is also clearly a figment of the imagination because that 130 degree arabesque is unreal. While Cinderella is usually transformed with gifts from the Seasons, MBT’s production changed these roles into various Jewels. I approve. I like any reference to bling bling rather than any passage of time unless they’re throwing a Botox fairy in there. These four jewels were tricky variations that every girl clearly needs in her wardrobe. Lauren Watts as the Sapphire Fairy fairy was a special gem with bright petite allegro while Ashley Hamann as the Garnet Fairy was lush and delicate. None was exactly my taste- if one had been ‘tacky yet expensive’ Fairy I would have been all about that.
As the ultimate event planner/ stylist, Birt as the Fairy Godmother was a vision of feminine beauty yet her variation featured odd masculine jumps. She’s basically the anti-thesis of This famous girly man party planner:
Other than that, she did little more than a lot of bourees and soutenus and arabesque step step arabesque before bringing in a big team of animals and bugs to put a new-dress, wig-clad Cinderella into the pumpkin coach. The set, prop, and lighting design of this scene was magical and colorful even if the resulting dress was dead hideous.
On to the ball. Most of the guests looked extremely bored, completely blank, or even angry. Maybe they had just been doused in flour, I don’t know, but I couldn’t see any reason for the sour expression. I could hardly even focus on the dancing because the attire was so distracting. First or all, where and more importantly, WHEN was this party? Why were they wearing Marie Antionette white wigs with either purple or bluish romantic tutus? If you’re going to wear the extensions, match the style with the outfits. Tip to toe fashion! And some variety PLEASE! especially at a ball. Otherwise, they’ll all be splashed across the ‘Who wore it best’ section of the fashion polls, and we all know the skinniest bi-yatch will win. While the tutus were pretty, they weren’t appropriate for a ball scene, at least if you’re wearing cotton-candy headpieces. Cinderella’s dress would have been a better choice for half the ball scene because the long dress would have hidden some of the sloppier dancer’s technique. It must have been an open bar ball.
Why the long dress with the frumpy, padded butt and big shoulders and sleeves went on the slender lovely Cinderella is a mystery to me. You couldn’t see her dancing at all, even if she sadly didn’t do much anyways. If it were me, I’d put her in a skin-tight black bandeau dress with tall tall gladiator heels. A million studded straps would keep those puppies from falling off and save us all the time of an international search. Time is money b*tches!
There were indeed some humorous moments in act 3. If I could move my face, I would have laughed. And the music, costumes,and scenery in the final pas de deux was sublime. However, the partnering between guest artist Alex Forck and Kilsavage looked shaky and uncertain. Each looked nice dancing alone, and Forck had especially impressive pirouettes and clean lines. Though Cinderella at least, had a rapturous gleam in her eyes, The Prince looked bewildered the entire time. She must have been dreaming of his money, while he was thinking, ‘I didn’t sign a prenup!”I’m guessing rather than happily ever after, these two will be publicly 73 hours after.
Overall, the show had highs and lows, some stunning dancers and some who could use more attention to their feet, legs, and faces. Like the mystery of Cinderella’s identity at the ball, it is unclear exactly who this company is. At times, it seemed like a children’s show with a sprinkling of good professionals in the mix. If so, then the children need to be used to better effect. If they are claiming the title of professional ballet company, then the level of dancers needs to be evened out and a few kinks of overall presentation and choreography smoothened out (or flat-ironed. I know a guy, if they need the number). There are some good key elements in place, it just seems that perhaps the company hasn’t quite found its footing yet.