Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Holiday Sweets - Cinderella and Seussical - Stage Reviews

Cinderella - National Ballet of Canada at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts - Toronto, ON - **** (out of 5 stars)
Choreographed by James Kudelka, Music by Sergei Prokofiev
Runs until Nov. 20th 2016

Seussical - Young People's Theatre MainStage - Toronto, ON - **** (out of 5 stars)
Music by Stephen Flaherty, Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, Book by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, Co-Conceived by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and Eric Idle, Based on the books by Dr. Seuss. Directed by Thom Allison
Runs until Dec. 31st 2016

Technically these are not holiday shows but boy does National Ballet's Cinderella and YPT's Seussical bring out the warm holiday joyous feeling just in time to start off the winter holiday season. Both shows are solid returns of fan-favourites from both companies.

The National Ballet of Canada's Cinderella by James Kudelka may be relatively the same production  brought back as recently as 2014 (and originally premiering in 2004), it's a wonderful traditional ballet with hints of a modernistic and comedic touch that balances the fairytale.

I loved this production back in 2008 and 2014 and yet again, the same opening night leads Sonia Rodriguez and Guillaume Côté are wonderful as Cinderella and the Prince. Rebekah Rimsay and Tanya Howard (below) are back as the hysterical ugly step-sisters. Seeing Rimsay in her 3rd opening outing as one of the step-sisters reiterates that she is so great at the comedic ballet role and manages to squeeze out laughs from her entire body movements. It was also great to see principal Piotr Stanczyk paired up with Rimsay again as they have a wonderful comedic rapport together.

Meanwhile, I always enjoy watching the younger members of the National Ballet, many who seem poised to be the next soloist or principal. Lise-Marie Jourdain plays the wicked Stepmother wonderfully without overplaying her into caricature but still being amusing. Hannah Fischer's long body seemed particularly fitting for the role of Twig, while Jordana Daumec, Alexandra MacDonald and Tina Pereira were beautiful as the other Garden dancers.

Meanwhile, while they weren't quite unified, individually, the Four Officers each had their individual strengths and look forward to their futures in the company. Christopher Gerty and Ben Rudisin were wonderful and I have spotted Trygve Cumpston before as well. Ethan Watts has a likeable presence.

YPT's Seussical (which I adored last time) is back using similar set pieces but under new direction, costumes, choreography and cast. Jeigh Madjus (so hilarious in Altar Boyz, La Cage) uses his cute petit form to maximum effect as Jojo, the young Who who Horton hears, and he manages a nice rapport with soothing voiced Jacob MacInnis (James and the Giant Peach) as Horton. It was also great to see some Asian representation with Jojo and Jonathan Tan as the Cat in the Hat, whose limber antics pop in and out of the show with mischievous delight!

I still find the plotline with the birds as the weaker part of the show but Arinea Hermans (above, with MacInniss, both of whom I have seen as a rising stars from Theatre Sheridan) sounds beautiful as Gertrude.

Seussical is a delightful little show that incorporates Dr. Seuss' favourite characters and zany rhymes wonderfully into hummable tunes by Ahrens and Flaherty (Ragtime) and the colourful production at Young People's Theatre is enjoyable for kids and the kid-at-heart alike.

Seussical Photos by Cylla von Tiedemann

Cinderella Photo by Aleksandar Antonijevic.

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