Sunday, April 07, 2002

Hamlet, the Ballet (Ohio Ballet)

Ohio Ballet's 'HAMLET, THE BALLET' visually effective

Earlier this year the Ohio and Dayton Ballet companies combined to present a wonderful dance version of 'PETER PAN.' Their newest joint venture is the full-length balletic version of Shakespeare’s 'HAMLET.' Though the production does not reach the excitement level of 'PETER PAN,' 'HAMLET, THE BALLET' makes for an enjoyable evening of dance.

Choreographing to contemporary composer Phillip Glass’s composition, choreographer Stephen Mills wisely chose to stylize the production. Mills, the Artistic Director of Ballet Austin, was hailed by Dance Magazine for his sleek and sophisticated version of 'HAMLET, THE BALLET.' And sleek and sophisticated it is. Except for the repeated device of using vertical leaps to portray anguish, the choreography showed texturing and integration of music and movement.

The ballet follows the Hamlet story closely enough that viewers familiar with the Shakespearean piece have no trouble in understanding the danced story. In general, Hamlet’s father is killed by his uncle Claudius. Claudius marries Hamlet’s mother. Hamlet broods, sees visions, and is visited by the ghost of his dead father who asks him to revenge his death. In the process of plotting revenge, more murder, intrigue and finally the destruction of Hamlet’s world, as we know it takes place.

Kirk Henning, who portrayed Hamlet on opening night, danced with ease but he lacked the physical and emotional presence needed to portray the great brooding and bigger-than-life character. Rachel Carmazzi was lovely as the emotionally tortured Ophelia. Mary Beth Hansohn danced and portrayed the role of Gertrude with strength and power. Dmitry Tubolstev, as he has done in previous performances, continues to feign emotion. Though adequately danced, his Claudius was overacted. Brian Murphy exerted his usual strong presence as Laertes. The sword fight between Murphy and Henning was extremely effective and well staged.

Tony Tucci’s lighting design, Christopher McCollum’s contemporary costumes, and Jeffrey Main’s scenic design added a strong visual dimension to the production.

Capsule judgement: Yes, this ballet is sleek and sophisticated!