CINDERELLA REVIEW. Three-act classical ballet.  Choreography: Veronica Paeper. Music: Prokofiev.  Original Decor/Costumes: Peter Cazalet.  Decor Co-ordinator: Michael Mitchell. Digital Design: Kirsti Cumming. Lighting: Faheem Bardien. Brandon Phillips conducted the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra.  Presented by Cape Town City Ballet. Artscape Opera.

Cinderella review


Balletomanes with good memories will recall how, in the 1970s, Veronica Paeper and Peter Cazalet’s individual and combined talents created many world class narrative classical ballets before circumstance altered their artistic lives. So Tracy Li (outgoing Acting CEO) is congratulated for persuading these two “greats” to come out of retirement to revamp this popular fairy tale.

Paeper’s fresh approach to her 1975 creation is noted by trimmer scenes, re-choreographing others and breaking tradition by casting Janet Lindup as Daffodil – Cinderella’s bullying ugly sister. Lindup, as a woman, clowning as a man/woman in drag had difficulty reining in her natural comic tendencies. Opposite delightfully coy Violet (Mervyn Williams – a real comedian) Lindup’s over-the-top antics, in the first and third acts, tended to go exactly that – over-the-top.

However, at the ball, she and Williams timed their tomfoolery to the “minim” as courted, by doddery Count Fossil (Bruce Spilsbury) and frightfully, frightfully conceited Marquis (Marc Goldberg) in true pantomime style, and they drew the laughs aimed for. At Saturday evening’s show Johnny Bovang turned in quite a loveable, brow beaten Violet, very happy to say “yes” to Count Fossil and leave weeping Daffodil beau-less.

Conductor Brandon Phillips’s understanding of what makes a good ballet conductor tick grows with each ballet.  For making Prokofiev’s sometimes gawky, sometimes poetic music an interesting audience experience loyal CPO members gave Phillips the support he demanded.

Paeper and Cazalet on form

Where Paeper’s choreography matches Prokofiev’s waltzes, mazurkas and scherzos in contrast to angular sounds there are occasional mismatches between steps to music. Yet Paeper’s pas de deux, solos, group scenes and eccentric old fogies revealed she hasn’t lost her creative or humourous touch. Neither has Cazalet lost his remarkable colour coding talent for romantic sets and (refreshed) period costumes, which blend with, but never overpower, the dancers. Combined with Kirsti Cumming’s novel digital images, this Cinderella is a lighthearted fairytale.

Friday night saw Laura Bosenberg’s Cinderella opposite French guest artist Maxime Quiroga’s Prince.  Is it complimentary to say Bosenberg is a reliable artiste? I’m not sure. However, I am sure Bosenberg is such an accomplished ballerina that, on technical and artistic levels, she never turns in a dull or uneven performance. Her engaging Friday and Saturday evening performances proved this – confirming her status as CTCB’s Senior Principal.

Cinderella review

Although princely roles normally require little in the way of acting skills, it is necessary to express emotion within the story’s frame. Disappointingly, on Friday, Quiroga, seemingly on auto mode, displayed little connection with Cinderella or to the on-stage happenings.

Happily by Saturday evening he reconnected his light ballon, controlled pirouettes, facial expressions and tender handling of Bosenberg to bring magic to Artscape’s opera stage.

Saturday matinee paired Conrad Nusser’s Prince to Mariette Opperman’s Cinderella. What a radiant performance.  Tall, soundless and a careful partner, Nusser, is developing into an artiste of real worth. As is the delightful Opperman. She has beautiful arabesque lines, gracious port de bras and although there are substantial height differences, this couple are blending into a strong partnership.

Recently CTCB’s management has undergone serious turbulence. This, on Friday evening, reflected on the corps de ballet’s lack-lustre offering. Fortunately by Saturday matinee and evening they were back on track dancing, as expected, as a professional ballet company.

What: Cinderella review

Where and when: Artscape Opera until 21 October 2018

Book: Computicket and Artscape Dial-a-Seat 021 421 7695