sandik

Broadway program

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The company has put a nicely edited film clip from West Side Story Suite up on their website

here

If I squint at it just right, it looks like Lucien Postelwaite is cast as Tony and I think it's Sara Ricard Orza as Maria, but that's harder to tell (hair down and seen mostly from behind)

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I think it was Louise Nadeau who, in a "Jewels" post-performance Q&A, said that the dancers had to audition for the roles in "West Side Story".

It wouldn't be the first time that PNB dancers were asked to sing: I remember how surprised I was when they burst into song in "Silver Lining".

Now, if they'd only release the casts, I could plan my second weekend...

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Now, if they'd only release the casts, I could plan my second weekend...

I know they like to wait till the last minute to see how everyone is doing, but it makes it hard to organize the rest of life. I always try to see as many different casts as I can that first weekend, if I'm reviewing, but there's other stuff I have to see as well. (not to mention the family thing...)

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If I squint at it just right, it looks like Lucien Postelwaite is cast as Tony and I think it's Sara Ricard Orza as Maria....

That's who I thought they were too when I saw this video for the first time. In fact, I'm 99.5% sure that is who they were.

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Postlewaite as Tony is just Central Casting :) (I would have loved to have seen him as Nardo.)

I know they like to wait till the last minute to see how everyone is doing, but it makes it hard to organize the rest of life. I always try to see as many different casts as I can that first weekend, if I'm reviewing, but there's other stuff I have to see as well. (not to mention the family thing...)

I'll be away from Seattle the first weekend :wink:, and things have been so crazy, I never even posted about Jewels last month...

I hope that my free days for weekend 2 match with different casts. I was really sad not to have seen Rachel Foster's "Rubies" and Kaori Nakamura's "Diamonds" :D

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I was really sad not to have seen ... Kaori Nakamura's "Diamonds" :wink:

All my friends agree with you -- I had to be elsewhere, but everyone is chattering away about it.

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Casting for Week 1 is up!

http://www.pnb.org/season/broadway-cast.html

Lesley Rausch debuts in "Slaughter on 10th Avenue" with Jeffrey Stanton, who is a great hoofer. Carla Korbes also dances Strip Tease Girl; Seth Orza debuts as her hoofer.

Korbes and Orza dance the leads in "Carousel", with Korbes making her debut, and Jodie Thomas and James Moore are paired in the same roles.

There are some debuts in "Take Five...More or Less": Tisserand and Porretta in the Opening Night Cast, Dec/Chapman/Gilbreath on Friday, and Thomas in the Saturday matinee.

For "West Side Story Suite":

Tony: Lucien Postlewaite

Anite: Carla Korbes

Maria: Sara Ricard

Riff: Orza or Stanton

Bernardo: Cruz or Bold

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I saw Korbes as the Strip Tease Girl at the season opener last September, and she was very fresh and open -- she reminded me of descriptions of Suzanne Farrell in the role.

And have you noticed all the television ads the company has bought for this program. I can hear one now, during the 11 pm news on channel 4, as I'm writing this.

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Lesley Rausch debuts in "Slaughter on 10th Avenue" with Jeffrey Stanton, who is a great hoofer.

Perfect....................I still remember this duo in similar roles in "Take Five" last year.

P.S. It's also reassuring to see Lesley dancing again since she had to be pulled from doing a role in Rubies due to an injury (ankle I think).

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Second week casting is up here

For some reason, they haven't starred the debuts, as they have with week one.

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It's 1st intermission and we just saw "Slaughter on 10th Avenue". I couldn't wait -- Kari Brunson just danced and acted Striptease Girl like a Broadway Stah! She was glamourous and fabulous in the best sense, and she can act, in the best sense.

Jordan Pacitti was Hoofer, and he had some wonderful stage moments, especially when he spotted Seth Orza's Gangster, and pleaded for his life. Such a young Brandoesque moment.

And many bravos to Anton Pankevitch, who played Morrosine almost completely straight, a formidable rival.

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2nd Intermission Cliff Notes:

Rachel Foster was very touching in "Carousel, a Dance". Jerome Tisserand wasn't remotely Billy Bigelow-like: he was sweet, if not innocent. It was as if he were the French exchange student who was in love with Louise and didn't know the backstory about her parents. His dancing was a dream.

Sarah Ricard Orza was spectacular as one of the demi women, with great energy and beautiful legs.

"Take Five..." bores me, despite gallant dancing by Brunson and Lesley Rausch, cast against type. Maybe there's a Girl in Green in her future?

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"West Side Story Suite" was the final work on the program. In the movie, I never thought that Russ Tamblyn's Riff was the central character of the Jets, let alone the movie. I always felt that Tony was supposed to be the One, but there was a void in the Jets when he decided to go straight.

Riff, at least when played by Seth Orza, is the Alpha Male, and he is the central character of this work. For one, he's given a voice. (Tony's music to "Something's Coming" is sung from the pit. Maria is a pretty girl, not much of a dance or dramatic challenge for Sarah Ricard Orza.) What was most powerful about his performance was his constant awareness of the pack: it was as if every nerve knew where every one of his Jets was, even if those who weren't in his sight lines, and he was clearly the leader. (Lawrence Brownlee had a similar quality in "I Puritani" at Seattle Opera last year, the Gretzsky-like 360 degree sight.)

Orza's fellow Jets and Karel Cruz's fellow Sharks were another matter. The characters in the movie had too much time and testosterone on their hands; apart from gang land, their lives were going nowhere. The men who danced the Jets and Sharks here are among maybe 300 men on the planet who can do what they do at the highest elite level and make a living at it, the polar opposites of the characters that they play. Most were more boyish than lethal.

I can see why Postlewaite, the Tony in all performances so far and cast for the run, was eager to perform Riff; Riff is even more unlike Tony than Bernardo is, and, according to Peter Boal in the Q&A, he has a great voice.

Carla Korbes was a smash as Anita, almost unrecognizable in a short black wig. She had flair and bite in the same phrase, and she rocked it in "America", a singing and dancing role, with Leanne Duge as a sweet foil. A real standout among the women corps was Rachel Foster, intense as Orza's partner in "Dance at the Gym".

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Helene, we need to link up if we're going to be there on the same night!

I have more thoughts, but have to earn some money right now -- will be back later.

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Sorry this is so lengthy -- the paper is pretty slim right now, so I don't get to hash out all the details in my review.

Miscellaneous thoughts on Broadway rep

This is the third “festival” program that Peter Boal has run since he's taken on the directorship, and it's the most modest. That's not necessarily a bad thing -- the Celebrate Seattle festival in 2007 was definitely in the middle of his honeymoon period, and profited from that surge of good will combined with a more fluid economy. Three separate programs outside of the regular season, guest artists and companies alongside PNB regulars, and lots of side dishes as well. Last year's Laugh Out Loud programming cut back a little bit -- two programs-worth of extras alongside the company's regular season production of Balanchine's Midsummer. This year it's one program, and it's all part of the regular subscription season, but there are still extra features on offer, some intentional and some serendipitous. SIFF ran three of the films that are associated with the ballets on view, there are singers from the 5th Avenue Theater in the lobby during intermission, and film clips associated with the individual dances before each act in the theater. This may not be the overflowing buffet of 2007, but it's a juicy evening in the theater, and just different enough from the regular fare that the “festival” title doesn't seem like a fib.

Slaughter on Tenth Avenue

Both Poretta and Pankevitch good timing with set-up sketch, but Poretta really hams up the dancing -- it looks like outtakes from The Red Shoes. Helene puts her finger on the difference -- Pankevitch is more realistic, which for me doesn't quite mesh with the comic-like quality of the ballet. I liked the guest artist (apparently Dan Baty is a neighbor of Peter Boal's as well as a donor) in the role of the hit man, but was tickled to see Orza on the second Thursday. There was something about his fedora that made his chin look like Dick Tracy's.

In the filmclip from the Balanchine documentary Vera Zorina seems more sensual in that version. The stage version we're seeing is perkier, perhaps because we see more of the set-up. Rausch and Brunson do just fine, but Körbes really has the accents down. She commits her weight to the sudden drops or shifts, which makes it read more vividly. All three of them have an innocence to them, though, that underlines the cartoonish nature of this work, a la hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold. The film has that fantastical quality, with some Busby Berkely-style camera work (looking at Zorina through the spread legs of Eddie Albert, she seeing the Boss upside down as she's in a deep backbend) which reinforces the comic bookish elements.

Stanton is a much more accomplished tapper than Orza and Pacitti, so he can make the rhythmic life of his character more complex. This isn't really a problem for the other two until the very last part of the ballet, during the escalating repeats for the hoofer -- as the tension mounts it would be great to see more density in the actual dancing. Orza and Pacitti substitute big energy, which makes sense, but isn't quite as thrilling as the other option.

I think Stanton's had the most rehearsal with this ballet and it shows -- he's very confident with his characterization. Orza seems a bit tense in the solo bits, but releases his inner showgirl in the duets -- his shoulder shimmys are great. Pacitii got just one chance at the part this rep, which often makes people feel they have to show everything they have, but he got past that trap easily. I hope he gets more performances when this comes back into the rep.

There's a real bookend feeling to the program, with Romeo and Juliet references in both Slaughter and West Side Story Suite, including the always-tricky dancing with a dead body. Stanton and Rausch do fine on the logistics (how can she help him in partnering without looking like she's doing anything?) and Orza manages Körbes pretty well, but Pacitti could have used one more rehearsal with Brunson -- she's just enough taller than he is when she's in character shoes that her 'dead' legs get in the way. (Brunson spoke at last night's post-show Q/A -- she asked Peter Boal if she was likely to get to perform Slaughter and at the time he said probably not, since Louise Nadeau was also cast as the Striptease Girl, so she said “I'm going to cut my hair” and he said sure. So she wound up with a long fall for the second duet with all the hair flinging)

Carousel

Wheeldon has made a very lovely ballet, but it doesn't have much to do with Carousel (this is not a flaw, as far as I'm concerned, just an observation) There's a hint of the Billy Bigelow character in the partnering for the main couple, and a sweet but hokey gimmick at the end of the work (a human carousel with dancers substituting for the horses) that refer to the musical theater piece, but other than that it's just the score. Rogers is very danceable, and I'd be fine if there weren't any references to its origins in the ballet, but I'm not sure if the majority of the audience could hear that music and not think of the storyline it came from.

Wheeldon does an interesting thing at the beginning of the work -- the music is pretty spare, while the ensemble is moving all over the place, but when the score opens up, becoming more lush and more active, the dancers spend more time in place, working under themselves rather than sweeping across the stage. Wheeldon is very good at keeping things interesting without big locomotion -- I wonder if that's a product of his RAD training, which has a very self-reliant quality to it.

Seth Orza has a baseline tension that reads well here in the “Billy” role -- the bandana from the costume emphasizes the thickness of his neck as it meets his shoulders. He's physically compact -- you could believe he hauled stuff around for a living (this works well for him as Riff in West Side Story Suite too) James Moore is a bit slighter, but it wasn't a distraction -- he's partnered with Jodie Thomas, so they both just seemed like a more petite version. Tisserand and Foster were lovely, but less detailed. I'd love to see what they'd do with a bit more rehearsal and another performance.

The main duet is very juicy -- it may not have to be the Julie and Billy story, but there's certainly a long arc through the whole thing as their relationship develops.

Take Five

The first couple of times I saw this I was pleased to be hearing the music live and happy that the dancers seemed to be having a good time. I'm less diverted now, but there are still opportunities for soloists to have a moment. Leslie Rausch was a bit stiff last year with the vampy aspect of her part, but she's warmed up enough to play with the timing now. Kari Brunson's solo either works (when she hits the accents just right) or doesn't -- there isn't much in there besides the kapow to play with. Last night Jodie Thomas was the girl in yellow, and was able to find rhythmic details in the opening solo that seem to get glossed over elsewhere -- I was thinking of her upcoming move to the Danish company as I was watching all the itsy adjustments.

West Side Story Suite

They run the film preview at the beginning of this act, and for all that the film stock has aged (it has that sepia brown tinge) we aren't more than a minute into it that the audience starts to snap its fingers along with the film -- this is a musical that almost everyone knows and feels that they own. Which makes any changes in the staging or the storyline problematic. I know that this is the version that Robbins wanted to present, but it still feels off when the show closes without Tony getting killed.

Stanton and Orza have the hardest job here as Riff -- in the “Cool” number, they really have to control their breathing to make the singing work. Carla Körbes does a great job as Anita, belting out “America” in a black wig and dark makeup. I don't know if it's her Brazilian heritage or just her skills, but she has the tension in the upper body that makes so many Latin dances read as proud -- I've heard flamenco dancers talk about cracking nuts with their shoulder blades. At any rate, her mambo is truly hot, and the rest of the Sharks are right behind her. I've always thought that the Sharks just wiped the floor with the Jets during the "Dance at the Gym" number, since they've got a much tighter style going. The Jets explode all over with their gymnastic-flavored style, but that unidirectional energy scatters all over the stage or the screen. The Sharks are like a laser beam, and burn whatever they touch.

I can't remember all the characters from the film or the stage show, and indeed I don't think that Robbins set their individual quirks on the corps members for this production, but I do recognize the Jet flying on speed (was that A-rab, whose mother was a junkie?) -- Barry Kerollis does a great job with that manic energy. And both Laura Gilbreath and Leanne Duge were naively sweet singing Rosalia, the girl who wants to bring a “new washing machine” back to Puerto Rico in the “America” number.

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but was tickled to see Orza on the second Thursday. There was something about his fedora that made his chin look like Dick Tracy's.

:lol: I couldn't put my finger on it, but that's exactly what it was.

You can't write too long -- I appreciate being able to read all of your observations.

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Stanton is a much more accomplished tapper than Orza and Pacitti, so he can make the rhythmic life of his character more complex. This isn't really a problem for the other two until the very last part of the ballet, during the escalating repeats for the hoofer -- as the tension mounts it would be great to see more density in the actual dancing. Orza and Pacitti substitute big energy, which makes sense, but isn't quite as thrilling as the other option.

Josh Spell and Jordan Pacitti were the guest dancers at today's post-performance Q&A. They were asked when they started to tap. Spell explained that he started with tap when he was 10, then started ballet later, and he dropped tap after he became serious about ballet. Pacitti replied, "not until three weeks ago" :off topic:, and he thanked a list of dancers, including Spell, Stanton, Gaines, and at least two other people whose names went by so fast I can't remember them, for helping him to learn the tap needed for the role. When this is revived, I suspect he'll have more practice and more vocabulary.

Stanton was Hoofer today, to Lesley Rausch's Striptease Girl (and Pacitti's gangster). His characterization is complete and detailed, and it's one of the finest, if not the finest, role in which I've seen him. It was hard to take my eyes off him, he was so invested in every move and nuance, so ardent, and so in keeping with the style of the piece. Rausch is a more detached dancer in general -- in the single performance the lead in "Nutcracker" in which I've seen her, she was the only Clara who didn't need the Prince during the storm in the boat ride -- and it was an uphill battle to match or contrast Stanton's intense focus. Her legs, though, were another story: they were a character of their own in this ballet.

My one disappointment is that Josh Spell wasn't cast in one of the performances as Hoofer, but for one section of "Take Five...More or Less" he might as well have been: his pas de deux with Laura Gilbreath was a home run, and although he wasn't literally tapping, he showed all of the moves and style that were appropriate to both roles. Gilbreath was a natural as the woman in Purple: she had a dose of Ann Miller's charm and charisma. Later, in "West Side Story Suite" she was an adorable, good-natured Rosalia, Anita's foil in "America", and she magically made herself look small in the role.

In "Carousel (A Dance)" Jodie Thomas and James Moore danced the leads. Moore had more Billy Bigelow to him, the selfish controlling part, and Thomas' attraction and distress were believably caused by him. (On Thursday, Tisserand seemed to be trying to console Foster for someone else's hurtful behavior.) Thomas gave a complex and rich characterization.

Sarah Ricard Orza gave another splendid performance as one of the demis. In "Emeralds" earlier in the winter, she gave a breakout performance in Mimi Paul's role, dancing with sweep and great musicality. Add a sunny temperament and charm, appropriate to her role in "Carousel", and it was hard to watch anyone else.

I think apart from the lead's, the women's costumes were problematic; the dresses by Holly Hynes looked like any number of dresses for Mark Morris' work. When Kylee Kitchens and Rachel Foster look borderline thick in them, I think it's safe to say they were unflattering, unlike Hynes' costumes for "Slaughter".

Today Jeff Stanton danced Riff and Batkhurel Bold, Bernardo. Stanton had less of a pack awareness than Orza, but despite a lighter touch, much like Tamblyn, he was formidable. Bold's Bernardo, I would not like to meet in a dark alley: he was one scary dude. Postlewaite was a touching Tony, although it's hard to be as gripping in the role when, as sandik pointed out, Tony doesn't die in the end. (I had wondered at first viewing whether everyone was supposed to be dead and in heaven in "Somewhere Ballet", but then thought better of it.)

In the post-performance Q&A, Boal said that Korbes, who had been the guest in last night's Q&A, said that when she was at NYCB being cast for the corps, she was told to be a Jet. She replied that she had "Shark in her blood", but whoever cast her said, "You're a blond -- you're a Jet". Silly person: Korbes was again a knockout as Anita, and it's hard to imagine her in any other role.

but I do recognize the Jet flying on speed (was that A-rab, whose mother was a junkie?) -- Barry Kerollis does a great job with that manic energy.

Kerollis was terrific in all three ballets in which he danced: Policeman in "Slaughter", corps in "Carousel", and Jet in "West Side Story Suite". He modulated his energy appropriately for each ballet, but he was vivid in all of them.

Because it's the Second Stage fundraiser program -- the dancers donated opening night salaries to the fund, and Laura Gilbreath did the front-of-curtain speech on behalf of it -- Spell and Pacitti were asked about the program. I had never realized that the fund was for more than tuition: it's for many next career options. Each dancer has the same potential allocation from the time they join the company. Spell told how he used his for two years in the joint PNB-Seattle University program, and the balance to attend school in Interior Design after his hip surgery a few years ago. Pacitti used his as seed money to start his own fragrance line, Jordan Samuel, which was featured in the PNB gift shop last year, after he broke his foot.

It was great to see that the ticket sales line was fifty deep 30 minutes before the performance, and that after I bought my ticket, one of the few left on the Main Floor, the line was just as long.

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I'm delighting in this thread. I hope someone from Miami City Ballet is reading --- and paying attention to the following:

It was great to see that the ticket sales line was fifty deep 30 minutes before the performance, and that after I bought my ticket, one of the few left on the Main Floor, the line was just as long.

I suppose it's too late for Miami to switch next from season's scheduled Neighborhood Ballroom full-evening yawner to a program like this. :) They certainly have a stage-full of dancers to do West Side Story Suite justice.

:) I love the idea of having "guest dancers" -- along with the AD, so that they're not simply pushsed out in front of the curtain on their own -- at the Q&As. Let's put this in the form of another suggestion to MCB. Some of the Miami dancers are TALKERS --- smart, articulate, funny.

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:) I love the idea of having "guest dancers" -- along with the AD, so that they're not simply pushsed out in front of the curtain on their own -- at the Q&As. Let's put this in the form of another suggestion to MCB. Some of the Miami dancers are TALKERS --- smart, articulate, funny.

This has been very successful here -- most of the dancers that have participated have been quite articulate. If you go regularly you do tend to hear the same comments (usually admiring), but then there are times that they'll mention something specific or facts that aren't in current circulation yet. For obvious reasons, the company doesn't speculate much in their official press materials, so I appreciate the more relaxed atmosphere at these sessions.

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