Rising stars shine in Pittsburgh Ballet's 'Cinderella'
The enchantments of the ballet “Cinderella” with music by Sergei Prokofiev have different accents in different choreographies. This week, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is reviving Septime Webre's staging, last presented in 2009. Webre's strong comedic elements complement the emotional tides of the story, and establishes our sympathy with Cinderella right from the start.
The depth of talent in the company's roster allows it to present four different starring couples during the run of performances. Amanda Cochrane was a joy to behold at the Friday matinee, fulfilling Dance Magazine's determination that she's one of 25 To Watch in 2013.
Cochrane commands the stage with an arresting combination of expressive acting with keenly honed technique. She was graceful beyond gesture, though her lines in the first scene could hardly have been more elegant. That's when she's dressed plainly, sweeping the floor.
The specific angles of her extended arms, the placement of a foot at the end of a phrase, and the tilt of her head toward her prince in the final scene are elements of the vocabulary Cochrane executes with finesse and freshness.
Luca Sbrizzi was memorable as the prince. He also finds ways to make expected gestures feel fresh and magical. His moves supporting Cochrane were perfectly timed to feel spontaneous, matching Cochrane's nicely impetuous touches.
The comedic elements made possible by Webre's casting the stepsisters as male dancers were eagerly embraced by Joseph Parr and Stephen Hadala. They may make Cinderella's life miserable for a while, and her father's life too, but they get their comeuppance in various ways throughout the ballet.
Parr and Hadala were delightfully klutzy and overly physical, truly the opposite of Cinderella. One of the stepsisters can't get off the stage without tripping, while their boldly colorful costumes never fit the environment they're in. This is most strikingly at the ball in Act II, when everyone else is attired in aristocratically soft, tasteful shades of color.
Elysa Hotchkiss was superb as the fairy godmother, sinister at first covered in a black cloak and casting magical spells on the stepsisters. But when she casts off her cloak and is revealed in glittering elegance, she filled out her benevolent role with warmth and confidence.
In the garden transformation scene that closes Act I, Caitlin Peabody, Danielle Downey, Gabrielle Thurlow and JoAnna Schmidt each gave riveting performances as spring, summer, winter and fall fairies who assist Hotchkiss and Cochrane.
Other secondary roles were superbly done, such as Andrew Kaczmarek as the loving but ineffectual father and Yoshiaki Nakano as the irrepressible jester. Olivia Kelly and Molly Wright were spectacular in a controlled way as the Siamese twins.
Prokofiev's score provides emotional focus and continuity, starting with Cinderella's world of dreams and darker reality before the curtain rises. For all the boisterous energy and colorful orchestration, which are engaging from moment to moment, the emotional truth of the music is its real strength.
Charles Barker led the Pittsburgh Ballet Orchestra in another outstanding performance. The ensemble's quality has risen rapidly during his tenure, especially in the characterful string playing. But the solidity and reliability of the brass were impressive too, while the woodwinds were full of personality and pungent timbres.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's production of “Cinderella” will be repeated at 8 p.m. April 19, 2 and 8 p.m. April 20, and 2 p.m. April 21 at the Benedum Center, Downtown. Admission is $25.75 to $100.75. Details: 412-456-6666 or www.pbt.org.
Mark Kanny is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Snow, freezing rain, bitter cold coming to Western Pa.
- Southbound McKnight Road closed for power line repairs
- Tennessee quarterback Peterman considers transfer to Pitt
- Jerome Bettis to be enshrined in hall of fame
- Fallingwater among Wright buildings nominated for World Heritage List
- Iraqi libraries ransacked
- Familiar Downtown Pittsburgh presence lost arm, leg to train
- Suggestions are aplenty on what Penguins need to break through
- Pa. Turnpike claims software fraud, wants $45M
- Gulls fleeing frozen Great Lakes fill skies over Pittsburgh’s Point
- Voters opt for ‘Don’t Know’ in 2016 presidential race, poll finds