After last season’s premières by Dutch National Ballet and San Francisco Ballet, Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella opened last night in San Francisco. Packed with feats of amazing stagecraft, this lavish production centers around a magic tree that grows at Cinderella’s mother’s gravesite, and shelters a covey of phantasmagorical woodland creatures who minister to Cinderella – in lieu of Charles Perrault’s Anna Wintour-like fairy godmother whose answer to all life’s dilemmas is a ballgown and a pair of glass Jimmy Choos.
The ensemble dancing is a triumph, from the spirits of the enchanted woods to the electrifying ballroom scene.
But the magic was diluted by hackneyed jokes that collectively set the feminist movement back a few decades. The diminutive, spirited Maria Kochetkova did her best to imbue Cinderella with a streak of independence but the overly long romantic pas de deux with Joan Boada preempted any bra-burning.
The stepsisters’ slapstick dragged on interminably, though Frances Chung and Taras Domitro, who played the kinder stepsister and the prince’s wingman nearly stole the show.
My four dates, the youngest 7, the oldest 12, who have all sat gamely through Beethoven’s Ninth, Bizet’s four-act Carmen, and Pina in 3D, were ready to pack it in after Act II. But they perked up at Wheeldon’s Act III wizardry.
Find out what else my jaded dates had to say in our review on Bachtrack.