I was uncertain about the production of Cendrillon during the first act. The theater and the stage were beautiful and the dancers were good, but the plot was so hard to follow! Nureyev's restaging placed the classic Cinderella fairy tale in the early days of Hollywood. I could pick out well enough that the stepsisters were aspiring actresses with the obligatory stage mother, but I wasn't sure where they were (In a house? A studio? A movie theater?) or the roles of all of the side-players in the first act. I really liked the movie producer/fairy god
Next came a fashion show of the different seasons (still confusing), followed by a creepy Metropolis-like Dance of the Hours. Act 1 ended with a wonderful trick where a large fabric pumpkin was brought on stage. When it reached center, it "popped," the fabric collapsed to the floor, and then immediately and quickly inflated to become a 1920s-style car, complete with a chauffeur who had been sitting in the pumpkin.
Act 2 began with a series of films being shot - a comedic crime piece, a Louis XIV waltz, a remake of King Kong. They were all choreographed with slapstick bits and really had nothing to do with the plot other than setting up the Hollywood mood. We met the prince, a movie star, shooting the ball scene of what else? Cinderella.
Here I think they were showing off their wealth. The costumes and sets were terrific, but what really wowed me was the presence of two guys for every girl in the chorus. Not only did it make for interesting choreography for the waltzing, but director-me who is casting Beauty and the Beast next week and who might not have enough guys to fill the lead roles let alone a chorus was positively green-eyed.
In the midst of shooting this scene, Cinderella shows up in a delightful entrance, silhouetted behind the green-glass and clockwork-looking backdrop accompanied by a mob of paparazzi with cameras flashing. She and the prince immediately begin dancing for the film, then she sits to the side to watch the shooting continue. Their first pas de deux of the show was my favorite. It began quietly with the prince slowly approaching Cinderella on her stool downstage left. He takes her hand, spins her around on the stool, and then they dance and it's just all soft and lovely like a pas de deux should be. The dance ended with the prince sitting on the same stool, Cinderella posed across his lap, the pair of them slowly circling around and around.
I was only disappointed by the lack of impressive lifts (I love those nearly as much as I love male dancers leaping), but all of the lead dancers in this show were wonderful at making incredibly difficult move look as quick and easy as shaking water off your hand. They did complete the show with a terrific lift at the very end - the Prince lifting Cinderella completely above his head while she holds a long pink scarf aloft in the breeze of a wind-machine aimed by the producer. I just wish he had scooped up her skirt so we could see his face too!
By the end of the show, the production had completely won me over. It was beautifully and skillfully danced; the comedic leads shone, the stepsisters and the movie director/assistant in particular, although the stepmother had a wonderful moment when she decided to try on the shoe herself; and the music was so grand and waltzy and dark and shimmery at all the right times. I'm so glad we got those suddenly-released tickets!
I was a good audience member, of course, so I had to do some hunting online for images to share with you. Here are a few from the official website (Please do click to enlarge - they're so pretty!):
P.S. I'll tell you about Strasbourg tomorrow. They're predicting 8-17 inches of snow tomorrow night/Thursday, so I need to pack for a few nights up in Mountain Town. At least I got three nights in my own bed before living out of a suitcase again!