Better Far Than Gold
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Silver Lining
4 & 11 June, Evening Shows
McCaw Opera House, Seattle, Washington
by Dean Speer
Silver Lining is Kent Stowell’s love letter to America’s Broadway and movie musicals, made to the music of Jerome Kern. It uses ballet as its language and musicals as its hallmark accent and backdrop, containing elements of vaudevillean show “acts” such as an “Apache Dance,” an “Adagio Act” and a magician with his lovely female assistants. One really amazing thing is that Mr. Stowell choreographed the entire ballet in a mere three weeks. He reported planning it for over a year but the actual in-studio creation time was far more compressed. More magic of the theatre and of Stowell’s talent.
Silver Lining is filled with dancing from start to finish and is a work for the entire company. The dancers reportedly like doing it and have fun but it’s also a stamina killer with everyone being in more than one section, the overall length (it’s a full-length ballet in six sections divided between two acts) and with many costume changes.
I enjoyed the whole package – music, choreography, decor, and singing. I particularly was charmed by “Till the Clouds Roll By” with Noelani Pantastico and Christophe Maraval who did a clever duet made all the more charming by an open umbrella that had it’s own dance, being twirled, passed and caught from dancer to dancer. Notable were Kaori Nakamura and Batkhurel Bold in an “adagio act” (“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”), Patricia Barker with Jeffrey Stanton in the classical pas “The Wishing Well,” and Louise Nadeau with the recently retired Paul Gibson in “Some Girl Is On His Mind.” The hoofer Tony award goes to versatile Jeffrey Stanton who morphs from classical ballet dancer and able partner to a very accomplished and prodigious tap dancer with his “variation” in “I’ll Be Hard To Handle.”
The magician was the incomparable Olivier Wevers with Carrie Imler as his lovely female assistant, who gets put into a box, sliced in half, the boxes pulled apart and then all put back together with her stepping out of it as if nothing ever happened, all while waving her hand at the audience from the box.
Ariana Lallone and Stanko Milov are such a good team and it was great to seem them twice, the first time in “They Didn’t Believe Me” and who were particularly effective during the second half of the show in “The Last Time I Saw Paris.” Lallone’s sweeping supported promenades in arabesque à terre hinted at a future terrible tragedy, perhaps the loss of a loved partner – a sad bittersweetness.
The strength of the Company shines in the many large ensemble pieces such as “The Way You Look Tonight” (Swing Time section) or in “The Cat and the Fiddle” from The Cotton Club section.
I’ve enjoyed this ballet from its début and enjoyed it all the more the past couple of weeks, as the public says “thank you and farewell” to PNB’s long-time and prolific choreographer and Artistic Director.