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Monte-Carlo Cinderella at Costa Mesa

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Sat. night I saw Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo's "Cinderella" at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. The LATimes had a very good review (See "Friday, February 1O" on Links Forum). Not my cup of tea til the pas de deux at the ball. The Times called it "exultant"; I called it "glorious"; it was all of that. These were not two people writhing in the emotional throes of a new found love; this was a couple deliriously happy at having found each other. "Happy" is the word; they exuded happiness, especially Asier Uriagereka, the Prince, who was beside himself with glee, and who lit up the theater with his smile. Worth the price of admission!


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I had the good fortune to attend last night's perf. of Cinderella by Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. Though I'm very much a lover of traditional ballet, I found the contemporary ballet choreography of Maillot to be enthralling!, fulfilling!, eloquent!, and touching! The sets, while spare, were absolutely appropriate to the production; the costume design showed sensitivity to the values of the production; the dancers, one and all, were focused and enthusiastic; and the only regret I have is that the music was canned (such, I suppose, are the economics of the situation). Our Cinderella, Anja Behrend, was natural and sympathetic in beautifully conveying the whole minefield of emotions the character undergoes over the course of the show. The same can be said for our Prince, Asier Uriagereka, with a somewhat different range of feelings to depict. Chris Roelandt ("Chis" in the program) was unusually moving in the refreshingly different role of The Father, as conceived in this production. What, for me, moved the production from "merely" splendid to memorably outstanding was the delightful conceptualization of the roles of The Pleasure Superintendents (think "Chamberlains"), just the perfect touch to the show in lightening its sometime troubling tone, keeping the show from taking itself too seriously. Asier Edeso and Raphael Bouchard were--and I'm running out of superlatives--wonderfully (and appropriately) playful and enthusiastic in these physically demanding roles which required a degree of attention far beyond the norm. (They even managed to remain in character to pick up and make disappear a prop which had gone astray from another character's doings in an earlier scene.)

The question I always ask myself upon walking out of a theater is, "What would I have done differently?" Precious little, in this case. The interlude with The Exotics, during The Prince's search, seemed somewhat gratuitous; or, rather, it would have been better integrated had there been more of a mix of guests at the ball. (That is, why is the Prince going to exotic lands to seek his lost one when all of the guests seemed to be "locals" in his Principality?) Also, for me, the "foretaste" of the ball didn't work; this could have been handled just in the "play within a play" sequence a few minutes earlier.

This production premiered in 1999. I'm the poorer for not having seen it so much sooner. I eagerly look forward to future visits by the Monte-Carlo troupe to see the other delights they have to share.

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