Director’s Notebook: Cinderella

PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal.
Photo © Angela Sterling

Grace Kelly, Kate Middleton, and Cinderella! Every little girl’s dream? Well, these days little girls have more options for prominence and power. I suspect today’s more ambitious little dreamers aspire to be Secretary of State, CEO of Hewlett Packard, have their OWN television network, or become President. The Princess thing is a real long shot, but a girl can dream, right? We all enjoy a little fantasy in our lives. Cinderella would have played the lottery if she had the chance.

With no megaball jackpot, she’s resigned to waltzing with the broom and imagining the interior of a faraway castle. Privilege and opportunity seem reserved to her comely siblings. Enter one good fairy, elegant couture, a horse-drawn carriage, handsome crown prince, and a ticking clock, and we are in the middle of a dramatic tale of love and triumph.

There are moments of Kent Stowell’s Cinderella that I so enjoy, like the charming choreography for the tiny “bugs.” I love the Jester’s questioning glance towards the Prince after seeing the stepsisters sickled feet, which seems to say, “Really, them?” When the Prince gallantly spreads his cloak for Cinderella’s fitting of the slipper, I watch for the quiet sense of justice felt by the dear, powerless father.

Kent pulled together an A-list team for this production. Costume designs by Martin Pakledinaz dazzle. Reds like we’ve never seen them before fall between decadence and blush, swirling around a white-clad Cinderella as she navigates her first ball. Even designs for the children boast an elegance and festivity that runs throughout the production. We’ve all enjoyed the talents of Rico Chiarelli’s lighting designs for many years. He creates the subtlest of moods with an artist’s hand-helping to bring so many works in our repertory to vibrant life. Tony Straiges designed sets that are simple but not sparse. A hearth and a hutch create a home. A chandelier, elegant balustrade, and graceful steps allow us to envision fantastic images of the interior of a palace ballroom. The Palace exterior is the stuff of postcards. Grand stone archways, though untouchable, take a permanent place in our memories.

Prokofiev’s score is one of my favorites. We were largely deprived of Prokofiev at the New York City Ballet. Apparently, he and Balanchine locked horns during the creation of Prodigal Son in 1929. That was that—no more Prokofiev in the house of Balanchine. The music moves with its own sense of grandeur and impromptu, rich with suggestion. It is also a favorite of our orchestra. We welcome our new Music Director, Emil de Cou, for these performances.

Cinderella has not been performed for nine years and has never been performed in McCaw Hall. Its lavish scale is perfectly suited to our theater. We are all looking forward to these performances with great excitement. Enjoy the fantasy. Tonight that old Subaru is your horse-drawn carriage! Watch the clock, be home by midnight, and be careful if you lose a shoe on the grand staircase as you leave…anything’s possible, you just have to dream. – Peter Boal

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