Sunday, May 02, 2004

Cinderella by Houston Ballet (Playhouse Square Center)

Charming ‘CINDERELLA’ by Houston Ballet

The Houston Ballet is recognized as one of the premiere companies in the U.S. Their recent production of ‘CINDERELLA,’ which was the closing show of the University Hospital’s Health System’s Ballet Series at Playhouse Square Center, clearly illustrated the showmanship. The sumptuous costumes, well conceived scenery, the full-orchestra, and generally fine dancing made for a charming evening of dance.

The opening night cast featured the lovely and talented Mireille Hassenboehler as Cinderella. Her strong toe-work, fine dramatic interpretation of the role, and radiant smile made her truly a fairy-tale princess. Her Prince Charming was Andrew Murphy. Though he displayed strong partnering skills, his dancing showed some weaknesses, especially in his leaps. Illya Kozadayev captured the audience with his athletic split jumps and effervesence as the Jester. Julie Gumbinner was fine as the Fairy Godmother, as were the fairies. Audience favorites were Dominic Walsh and Phillip Broomhead, playing the stepsisters in drag. Their exaggerations and facial maneuvers brought gales of laughs from the many children in the audience.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: ‘CINDERELLA’ was a perfect way to end what turned out to be an inconsistent season of ballet in the Playhouse Square Center. Without a company of its own, the area has to turn to outside sources for major dance entertainment. When the American Ballet Theatre or the Houston Ballet are the choice, the evening is fine. On the other hand, the performance of The Pennsylvania Ballet left much to be desired.