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'Cinderella' adds a few new twists and turns

By Steven Brown
The Charlotte Observer

Ballet’s most beloved housekeeper will go to work this week to usher N.C. Dance Theatre and its audiences into their new home, the Knight Theater.

Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux’s “Cinderella” will run Thursday through March 14. The performances will be the company’s first – except for a one-night gala in January – in what will now be its main venue.

Here are a few glimpses.

Showpiece: NCDT’s “Cinderella” dates back to 2001. Bonnefoux thinks its sets and costumes, “the most elaborate we have,” outshine even the company’s “Nutcracker.” The sets were designed for NCDT by a New York City Ballet designer, Alain Vaes. The grandest scene is the ball, complete with a gleaming carriage that delivers Cinderella to the stage. Another charming touch is Bonnefoux’s puppet show depicting the Prince’s search for the girl who fits the glass slipper.

Complete: After abbreviating “Cinderella” in revivals over the past few years, NCDT will perform it full-length for the first time since 2001. The main difference is that NCDT is putting back Act 3, the wedding of Cinderella and the Prince – which was only briefly sketched in the shortened version.

Sharing: NCDT will spread the title role across three of its most prominent women. Besides starring as Cinderella in previous runs, Traci Gilchrest played Juliet in Bonnefoux’s version of Sergei Prokofiev’s other great story ballet, “Romeo and Juliet.” Rebecca Carmazzi, also returning to Cinderella, portrayed the doomed Desdemona in Dwight Rhoden’s “Othello.” Alessandra Ball, who rejoined NCDT this season after spending a year dancing in Spain, is playing the part for her first time.

At Knight: Bonnefoux thinks the Knight Theater will show off “Cinderella” in style. “The sets are so wonderfully painted,” he said. “You’ll see them even better close-up.” Because of the Knight smaller seating capacity, NCDT will spread the performances across two weekends. “People will have time,” Bonnefoux says, “to tell their friends to go.”