Cinderella soars to top of must-see productions

-A A +A
By Carol A. Clark

From its breathtaking opening solo to its exquisite grand finale - Susan Baker Dillingham’s creative genius takes the classic “Cinderella” tale to amazing new heights.

“The dancing was incredible … I couldn’t believe how beautiful the costumes were … and the lighting and the music were absolutely spectacular,” an audience member said as the final curtain drew closed Friday night. “I didn’t want it to end, I wanted the dancers to immediately start the show over again,” said another audience member at Duane Smith Auditorium.

It really doesn’t get better than that – and no wonder they feel that way – Baker Dillingham’s 2009 “Cinderella” will undoubtedly go down in local history as one of the community’s most celebrated productions.

One opportunity  remains to experience this remarkable ballet performance at 2 p.m. today. Tickets, which cost $12 for general admission, $8 for seniors and students, and children age four and younger are free, are available at the door.

Baker Dillingham’s brilliant casting came from the talented members of her New Mexico Dance Theater. “It’s so exciting … all my training has led to this” said the star of the production, Larissa Fortson.

Dramatic lighting illuminates her delicate beauty as she dances her solo ever so gracefully in the opening scene. Fortson’s delightful portrayal of Cinderella is matched with a perfect prince performed masterfully by Daren Savage. His strong, regal presence is just right and fills the stage with excitement.

Baker Dillingham outdid herself in casting the evil stepsisters. What a hilarious duo. Chelsy Smith and Elizabeth Dombek perform with distinction. They are self-indulgent, self-centered and completely delightful in every scene. The very sight of them brings appreciative laughter from the audience. Their gaudy apparel and raucous behavior is a wonderful contrast in the elegantly understated ballroom scene. The muted satin and brocade-like gowns and soft, stately music are shattered by the lovable spoiled brats as they burst upon the scene, brightly dressed, bickering and boisterous.

Baker Dillingham is gifted not only in dance and choreography, but in directing her dancers to immerse themselves in their characters. Members of the chorus in a Baker Dillingham production can gratefully be counted on to stay in character throughout their scenes.  

The evil step-mother is performed with such flair by Bethany Sullivan who contrasts her tender kindness toward her shallow off-springs superbly with her wicked harshness towards Cinderella.

Zoe Martin gives a gorgeous performance in her portrayal of the Fairy Godmother.

The talented performances of Michael Roybal as the Dancing Master and Frank Macias as the Jester are spot on.

The Fairies and their attendants layer the production with a delicate grace, especially in the notable performances of Winter Fairy Alice Veirs, Autumn Fairy Natasha Roberts, Summer Fairy Kendra Smale and Spring Fairy Hannah Taylor.    

The entire ballet corps and all of the dancers who performed in the waltz, clock and dressmaker scenes and as Cinderella’s attendants were simply fabulous.

The incredibly talented performances of the entire cast, together with the Broadway-worthy costumes created by Kenda Bultman and her army of superb seamstresses, the spectacular sets designed by Winnie Lamartine and Don McLaughlin, the impeccable set construction by Clay Dillingham, Andie Kysar, and Winnie and Bruce Lamartine, the exquisite sound produced by Holger Waschinski and the professional-level lighting by Ross Mason, add rich dimension and create an absolutely magnificent production.

Since taking charge as manager of Duane Smith Auditorium, Mason has transformed the facility to a level that enhances the joy of experiencing a stellar production such as "Cinderella."

Contact Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com or 662-4185 ext. 25. Read her blog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.