Imagine a version of Cinderella where the setting is 1964, the ball is prom, the dance moves are the Twist and the Mashed Potato, and Cinderella goes by “Cindy.” Ballet Fantastique mother-daughter producer-choreographer team Donna Marisa and Hannah Bontrager have! In their all-original Cinderella: The Rock Opera, local favorites Shelley and Cal James (of the famed Satin Love Orchestra) join the unstoppable dancers of Ballet Fantastique live on stage, playing their original arrangements of such classic 60’s billboard hits to Donna and Hannah’s charming, laugh-out-loud choreography. It’s ballet like you’ve never seen it before.

As a signature hallmark of Ballet Fantastique’s hybrid brand of dance theater, Donna and Hannah use well-placed dialogue and cross-disciplinary collaboration to guide the audience through the story’s action. In Cinderella: A Rock Opera Ballet, a local celebrity real-life radio DJ joins the dancers on stage as the story’s “on-air” narrator.

“We imagine our updated Cinderella twist as a live radio broadcast that Cindy, her stepmom and stepsisters, and the whole town of Sunnydale are listening to as the action unfolds,” says Donna Bontrager, Artistic Director of Ballet Fantastique. “It seemed only right that there should be a real radio DJ who guides the story!”

“With a familiar story like Cinderella, you don’t need much,” says Hannah. “But just add a few lines add tremendous context and humor to the narrative arc of the ballet.”

Act I opens when Stepsisters “Drizz” (Brooke Geffrey-Bowler) and “Stasia” (Elizabeth Chapa) and their mother (Isabelle Bloodgood) harass Cindy (Ashley Bontrager) in “Big Girls Don’t Cry”; meanwhile, The Queen (Nicole Brown) reminds Prince Charming (Gustavo Ramirez) that “You Can’t Hurry Love,” as she gives him the idea to throw a prom to find an eligible local lady for a princess. Our radio DJ breaks the hot news that the Prince is handing out invitations to his prom personally in “Today I Met the Boy I’m Going to Marry.” When her stepsisters rip up her prom invitation, Cindy dances her defiance to “You Don’t Own Me”—complete with backup dancers.

“We imagine our ‘Cindy’ as a spunky, brave heroine,” says Donna. “This fierce piece of choreography is where Cindy stands up for herself, if only while she’s alone.”

When the doorbell rings, it’s the Sunnydale Fairy Godfather (Preston Andrew Patterson)—another playful twist in the BFan spinoff—with fairies (Ana Brooks & Jenavieve Hernandez) in “Tell Him” to help outfit Cindy for prom. Act I closes when the Stepsisters dream of the ball in their nighties to “Mr. Sandman.”

In Act II, Cindy arrives at Prom to the Beatles’ “Saw Her Standing There,” the clock strikes twelve to “Save the Last Dance for Me,” and when Prince Charming shows up with Cindy’s missing pointe shoe, we hear “My Boyfriend’s Back.” For each of the show’s fourteen pieces, Shelley and her band have created a custom new original arrangement for Ballet Fantastique that pays tribute to the original 60’s hit—and Donna and Hannah have created choreography that references movement from the period while still challenging the Ballet Fantastique company dancers’ classical technique and virtuosity.

“We are thrilled and honored to be working with Shelley and the incredibly talented musicians of the Agents of Unity Band on this exciting, challenging artistic endeavor. They are world-class musicians and so much fun to collaborate with!” says Donna, Artistic Director of Ballet Fantastique.

The musicians are equally excited about the collaboration. Shelley adds: “what makes this show so unique and fun is bringing in a modern musical twist to these iconic 60’s billboard hits, along with the updated storyline of Cinderella.”

Gustavo Ramirez says he “is positively charmed to play Prince Charming for Ballet Fantastique’s fantastic production of this one-of-a-kind Cinderella.”


This article was provided courtesy of Ballet Fantastique.

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