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PNB’s Cinderella ballet a thrill for all ages

Performances at McCaw Hall through Sept. 30

Pacific Northwest Ballet corps de ballet dancer Kylee Kitchens stars as Fairy Godmother and soloist Rachel Foster as Cinderella with PNB School students and Company dancers in Kent Stowell’s Cinderella.

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We have all heard the story, read the story or have had the story of Cinderella read to us. But the delight in seeing Pacific Northwest Ballet's wondrous Cinderella ballet brought to life on stage at McCaw Hall in Seattle brings it into a whole new and beautiful light. The production delights all the senses with its gorgeous costumes, incredible score and wonderfully talented dancers. The combination makes the classic rags to riches tale so beautiful it leaves you with your own happy ending.

As the ballet begins, Cinderella is busily scrubbing the kitchen floor, and dreaming of happier times when her mother was alive. Choreographer Kent Stowell conjures rare enchantment in the moment by recalling Cinderella's long-lost mother in a tender memory scene and then returning her as her Fairy Godmother.

As if those in the audience are stepping between the pages of a beloved storybook, the ballet's breathtaking beauty - combined with Sergi Prokofiev's lively score - vividly illustrates the familiar story and supports a rich array of character roles - from silly step-sisters to tiny dancing pumpkins (played by children) to a gentle, handsome prince. And when Cinderella's ivory carriage rolls to a stop at the entrance to a magnificent ballroom and she takes her first steps into the midst of swirling, scarlet-clad dancers, all hearts are with her as she lives out her magical night.

By the second intermission, you really realize how beautiful and detailed the set designs are. As the curtain rises, we are at the ball at the royal palace, with a beautifully lit large era painting and a crystal chandelier on the ceiling, all combined with wonderful music playing. We see several scarlet-clad couples performing a waltz. Also featured are a variety of solo dances, which allow the many dancers to showcase their talents. One of the best solos, performed by Jonathan Poretta as the jester, is not only entertaining but a testament to his endurance and leg strength, with his amazing one-legged spin for almost a full minute. Act II also features the highlight of the ballet - Cinderella (Lesley Rausch) and the Prince's (Batkhurel Bold) most romantic and memorable performance of the evening. After the plot dances through Cinderella's evil stepmother and stepsisters trying to fit their foot into the slipper, prince and princess finally meet.

The ballet ends with Cinderella and her prince dancing as they are showered with fairy dust, reminding us that fairy tales endings are always happy but in the case of this ballet also delightfully beautiful.

The performance runs about two-and-a-half hours (with two intermissions), and during Saturday's matinee production there were several young children in attendance. PNB also hosts special activities, dress-up and arts & crafts for children and their families beginning one hour before all matinee performances.

The remaining shows include 7:30 p.m. performances on Sept. 27, 28 and 29, and 1 p.m. matinee performances Sept. 29 and 30.

Tickets start at $28 and can be purchased at www.pnb.org.  

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