CriticalDance Forum

Pacific Northwest Ballet: Broadway Festival (March 2009)
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Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Pacific Northwest Ballet: Broadway Festival (March 2009)

PNB presents its Broadway Festival, March 12-22, 2009 at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall in Seattle. Included are "West Side Story Suite" (Robbins/Bernstein), "Carousel (A Dance)" (Rodgers/Wheeldon), "Take Five...More or Less" (Brubeck & Desmond/Susan Stroman), and "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" (Rodgers/Balanchine). Enjoy a two minute excerpt from a studio rehearsal of "West Side Story Suite" included in this webcast:

Broadway Festival

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Wed Mar 04, 2009 3:35 pm ]
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A link to the casting page for the Broadway Festival:

Broadway Festival Casting

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Mar 09, 2009 10:07 am ]
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Moira Macdonald previews the Broadway Festival in the Seattle Times:

Seattle Times

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:48 pm ]
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KUOW Radio's Marcie Sillman reports on PNB Soloist Benjamin Griffiths' treatment for cancer as he prepares roles in the Broadway Festival:

KUOW 94.9

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Mar 16, 2009 9:50 am ]
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Seattle press reviews from the Thursday, March 12, 2009 performance.

R. M. Campbell in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Seattle P-I

Moira Macdonald in the Seattle Times:

Seattle Times

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:19 pm ]
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Spider Kedelsky reviews the program in

Author:  Dean Speer [ Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:16 pm ]
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Hitting The Heights, Up In Lights
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Broadway Festival Program, 14 March 2009

by Dean Speer

It’s too easy to forget that not all that long ago, it was common for ballet dancers to perform outside the specialized area of ballet in other concert dance, in musicals, for film, and even (horror-of-horrors) for the new-fangled and suspicious medium, television. I’ve read more than one report, for example, of the great ballerina Alicia Alonso [who is still around as of this writing] moving people to tears at Ballet Theatre with “Giselle” and then tap dancing a couple of months later in a Broadway musical. Companies did not provide full time employment to dancers who made their way by being versatile and seeking opportunities in both obvious and unusual places.

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Broadway Festival is the closest thing this classical company has done to “putting on a show” yet it all fit nicely together and made sense at the program I caught in mid-March. One common thread among each piece is how they summarize a period or atmosphere...or even, as Peter Boal reported, how the whole musical is put into one thing (referring to “West Side Story Suite”).

Finding employment himself on Broadway as a choreographer, the great Balanchine made the ballet-within-a-ballet-within-a-musical [‘Slaughter on Tenth Avenue’ within “On Your Toes”] for his wife Vera Zorina. “Slaughter” is a revival version that he re-made, based on the original, for his last muse, Suzanne Farrell. A neat bonus of the evening was a showing of an excerpt from the movie of the original with Zorina and a very young Eddie Albert. I was impressed by how much of the original choreography made it into the later version. [They also preceded “West Side Story Suite” with the movie trailer – also quite wonderful...and interesting to note how much of the “real” choreography made it into the compressed ballet version of six dances.]

Staged by Susan Pilarre, “Slaughter” is a fun romp set in a ‘20s-style speakeasy with ‘ganstas’ and a “Striptease Girl” with whom the Hoofer is smitten. Fun ensues as double-crossers get double-crossed...and all’s well that ends well as our hero is saved from being rubbed out and the entire gang, after an initial set of bows, launches into a classic Balanchine tutti finale.

“Carousel” has been a popular hit since its 1945 premiere. Re-envisioned as a dance by hot property choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, “Carousel (A Dance)” nicely gives us the sense of the musical book without its sad details. Jodie Thomas and James Moore find each other at the fair and their duet deepens as they move to “If I Loved You.”

Very inventive is how Wheeldon makes a moving carousel out of only the dancers themselves and a few simple poles – I won’t give it away here; you’ll have to go see it for yourself. And when they did, it got a nice cheer and clap.

Susan Stroman’s “Take Five...More or Less” is a zippy revival of last year’s premiere hit with many of its original cast members. It was fun seeing the ever amazing Kaori Nakamura in Noelani Pantastico’s part and how much rascally fun Stacy Lowenberg put into the ‘Orange’ part. For its bit, “Take Five” is a microcosm of what Stroman does best – quirky, inventive, fun with some energetic dancing and hard steps thrown into the middle.

Of course, the evening built to the much anticipated Robbins’ “West Side Story Suite,” very nicely realized here by the company.

One of the undisputed stars of the evening had to be Carla Körbes who played both the Striptease Girl in “Slaughter” and Anita in “West Side Story Suite.” Gams that go on for miles, she also possesses a strong singing voice, displayed in the dance ‘America.’ Jeffrey Stanton, who easily could have been in at least one more of the evening’s dances – he was in two – had his fusion matrix of ballet, tap, and “hoofer” talents deployed well in Stroman’s work and it was also nice to see him have a turn as Riff. Mr. Stanton is one of those consistent and strong performers for whom the audience does not have to sweat blood. You just know he’s going to get through each assignment well and bring his best attributes to each.

Others of note were the character of Tony (Lucien Postlewaite), Laura Gilbreath who was a hoot as the clueless Rosalia, also in ‘America.’

PNB’s Broadway Festival has been a big hit with la grande publique and demonstrates yet again that we are so fortunate to have a company of PNB depth and standard right here in our own backyard. Who can easily say, “Let’s put on a show!”

Next on the boards: “Swan Lake” in April.

Author:  Azlan [ Sun Mar 22, 2009 7:06 pm ]
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I found this program of high entertainment value, of a variety that showcases the dancers' charisma in addition to -- and sometimes more so than -- their ballet acumen.

"Slaughter..." solicited laughs from the audience but there's no joking in the strength of the performance of the lead female role which further acentuates the chiseled sexuality of Leslie Rausch.

I think it a little odd that this company pulled off a performance of "Carousel" that actually makes sense to me compared to ones I've seen at other companies, including NYCB. Maybe it was the incline and angle of the line of sight? This ballet is so precisely constructed in space and time that a limb out of place can make the whole piece look disjointed, so this perfomance by PNB brought satisfaction -- any maybe it's the dancers that made it right! The costumes however remained unflattering in my eyes...

"Take Five" is one of those cute works reminiscent of jazz cliches -- cheesy perhaps but effective in getting a positive reaction from the audience.

I have to confess I never liked "West Side...", feeling that the suite takes too much of a liberty in its abrupt feel-good ending after following the course of the Broadway version so closely. Nonetheless, Sarah Ricard Orza, Carla Korbes, Laura Gilbreath and Lucien Postlewaite gave heartwarming performances.

I liked this show a lot and was especially thrilled by the nearly full house but I felt a little like that lady in the Wendy's commercial -- to paraphrase her, "Where's the ballet?"

Author:  Dean Speer [ Mon Mar 23, 2009 9:29 am ]
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Jim Demetre of "Artdish" reviews the program:


Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Mar 23, 2009 11:00 am ]
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Peter Boal sent out an e-mail to the company, the staff, the board and the advisory board late on Friday afternoon indicating that the Broadway Festival, with 5,250 tickets purchased to date, has broken the old record for single tickets sold for a mixed repertory program (set by the Valentine program in 2006).

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