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American Ballet Theatre: Cinderella 2011
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American Ballet Theatre: Cinderella 2011

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American Ballet Theatre

Cinderella 2011
Metropolitan Opera House

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Alexei Ratmansky, Artist in Residence
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters:
Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova,
Clinton Luckett, Nancy Raffa
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
James Timm, Director of Marketing and Brand Management
Susan Morgan, Manager of Press and Online Media

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 23, 2011

(Read More ABT Reviews)

Cinderella (2006): Choreography by James Kudelka, Music by Sergei Prokofiev, Asst. to the Choreographer, Mandy-Jayne Richardson, Scenery and Costume Design by David Boechler, Lighting Design by Christopher Dennis.

Cast on June 21, 2011:

Conductor: David LaMarche
Performed by Gillian Murphy as Cinderella, David Hallberg as Her Prince Charming, Martine Van Hamel as Her Stepmother, Kristi Boone as Her Stepsister, Luciana Paris as Her Other Stepsister, Susan Jones as Fairy Godmother, Isaac Stappas as A Hired Escort, Craig Salstein as Another Hired Escort, Yuriko Kajiya as Blossom, Maria Riccetto as Petal, Simone Messmer as Moss, Hee Seo as Twig, Clinton Luckett as A Photojournalist, Gennadi Saveliev, Blaine Hoven, Grant Delong, Jared Matthews as Four Officers, and the Company as A Jeweler, A Dressmaker, His Assistant, A Makeup Artist, A Dancing Instructor, Groom, Justice of the Peace, Father of the Bride, Ring Bearer, Garden Creatures, Pumpkins, Ladies and Bachelors, A Shoe Salesman, The Shoemakers, A Customer, Ladies with/out Shoes, and Wedding Guests.

Cast on June 23, 2011:

Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins
Performed by Julie Kent as Cinderella, Marcelo Gomes as Her Prince Charming, Nancy Raffa as Her Stepmother, Simone Messmer as Her Stepsister, Maria Riccetto as Her Other Stepsister, Kelley Boyd as Fairy Godmother, Roman Zhurbin as A Hired Escort, Julio Bragado-Young as Another Hired Escort, Sarah Lane as Blossom, Marian Butler as Petal, Stella Abrera as Moss, Kristi Boone as Twig, Clinton Luckett as A Photojournalist, Alexei Agoudine, Joseph Phillips, Eric Tamm, Roddy Doble as Four Officers, and the Company as A Jeweler, A Dressmaker, His Assistant, A Makeup Artist, A Dancing Instructor, Groom, Justice of the Peace, Father of the Bride, Ring Bearer, Garden Creatures, Pumpkins, Ladies and Bachelors, A Shoe Salesman, The Shoemakers, A Customer, Ladies with/out Shoes, and Wedding Guests.

James Kudelka’s Cinderella was premiered at the Met in 2006, and I was thrilled that it returned this season. We all know the story, so there’s no need for a synopsis. The Prokofiev score plays in my mind for days or weeks, alternating with whichever other story ballets I’ve seen simultaneously. But, this score is one of my favorites, and David LaMarche (21st) and Ormsby Wilkins (23rd) both helped Ballet Theatre Orchestra fill the House with intoxicating and sumptuous refrains. The high points of this production are the sets and costumes, especially that giant orange pumpkin coach, on ribbons, that floats from the rafters, carrying Cinderella right into the Ball. The audience always gasps (first-time viewers, I assume), and the children are wide-eyed. There are men in formal attire with pumpkin heads, and dwarf characters crawling out of a smoky fireplace, all in mysterious enchantment.

The early 20th Century costumes for Prince Charming are handsome, and, during the worldwide search, he sees ladies on skis, a shy woman who giggles, a Dutch girl wearing wooden clogs, and much more, but the slipper fits none. There’s a shoe salon and shoemakers, assisting in the search, while Prince Charming clutches the sparkling glass pointe shoe, focused forward. The retro airplane and wheel choreography, as the Prince and Officers wind themselves up in intense affect, is always stunning and entertaining. The “suburban” homestead and adorable kitchen shelves, on which Cinderella perches and polishes, double as whisky cabinets for the Stepmother’s stash. The colorfully designed wigs and costumes for the Stepsisters, adding eyeglasses and ornamentations, and the silky, lounge robes for the Stepmother are all perfectly suited to this comedic drama. This is not a tragically poignant Cinderella, with dark folk-tale effects, but rather an uplifting ballet, styled for all ages and for all those who love to be spellbound.

On the 21st, Gillian Murphy seemed to improvise, adding even more items to polish, working hard for her supper. She was impetuous, strong-willed, and emotionally restrained, so it was even more exciting, when her Fairy Godmother (Susan Jones) appeared to help create her ball gown and whisk her out of the garden. Ms. Murphy made excellent use of the stage space, which was sometimes quite cluttered. She nimbly hopped about, especially when she wore the one glass slipper after the ball. Her chemistry with David Hallberg, her Prince Charming, is seasoned and renowned, and their partnering was radiant, especially in the ballroom. Mr. Hallberg seizes the eye and expands the action, almost whenever he’s onstage. He whizzed about like the plane he later shaped, and both he and Ms. Murphy seemed to love the madcap momentum.

On the 23rd, Julie Kent and Marcelo Gomes, who premiered this work five years ago, threw themselves once more into the mayhem. Ms. Kent had a different interpretation, more casual, nonchalant, making much of the mop and pail, but she was always enchanting and full of life. Mr. Gomes, her Prince, has an energized take to the big search, winding himself up like a motor, propelling himself and the Officers north to south. His passion at the Ball was palpable; he exudes a forceful persona throughout. In fact, at times, he’s almost wild with abandon. Both duos on both nights were compelling in the roles, and I attribute that to their shared chemistry that’s grown with the years. Dance partnering in story ballet is critical to the success of the performance. It takes two to transport the imagination. This is what makes Ballet Theatre so special, the heightened theatricality.

Martine Van Hamel (21st) was more entertaining than Nancy Raffa (23rd) as the Stepmother, having perfected the role with tipsy, flighty, eccentric mannerisms. Ms. Raffa looked less confortable in this good-humored camp, although she’s a superb Madge the Witch (but that’s another ballet). Kristi Boone and Luciana Paris were the Stepsisters on the 21st, while Simone Messmer and Maria Riccetto took the roles on the 23rd. Ms. Messmer and Ms. Riccetto were over-the-top entertaining, improvising gestures that endeared them to the House. The hired escorts were Isaac Stappas and Craig Salstein (21st) and Roman Zhurbin and Julio Bragado-Young (23rd). Of the four, Mr. Salstein and Mr. Bragado-Young were the most engaging. It seemed too silly for Mr. Zhurbin and Mr. Stappas, who are stronger in other character roles.

The Garden creatures, Blossom, Petal, Moss, and Twig were Yuriko Kajiya, Maria Riccetto, Simone Messmer, and Hee Seo (21st), and Sarah Lane, Marian Butler, Stella Abrera, and Kristi Boone (23rd). In these ensembles, Ms. Kajiya, Ms. Messmer, Ms. Butler, and Ms. Boone were most captivating. The Fairy Godmothers were Susan Jones (21st) and Kelley Boyd (23rd), with Ms. Jones the most sparkling. Four Officers have prominent roles, and they were Gennadi Saveliev, Blaine Hoven, Grant DeLong, and Jared Matthews (21st), and Alexei Agoudine, Joseph Phillips, Eric Tamm, and Roddy Doble (23rd). In this ensemble, Mr. Saveliev and Mr. Phillips were bristling in the moment. Clinton Luckett was the Photojournalist both nights. The Corps was outstanding in their kitchen, garden, ballroom, and wedding scenes, and they all deserve kudos for adding to the magic. James Kudelka’s Cinderella is quite magical, at that. Kudos to Mr. Kudelka, and kudos to Maestros Ormsby and LaMarche.

Gillian Murphy in "Cinderella"
Courtesy of Marty Sohl

Julie Kent and Marcelo Gomes
in "Cinderella"
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at