The Kansas City Ballet’s “Cinderella” is equal parts comedy and elegance. The charm of Friday’s premiere at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts was enhanced by the resplendence of some younger patrons, in tiaras and ball gowns, whose laughter and awe encouraged those somewhat older to embrace the fantasy. This production was the Kansas City Ballet’s premiere and the first local performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s score in its entirety. Prokofiev created a musical platform both alluring and adroit, evidenced by the wide-leaping melodies, graceful phrasing and about-face shifts, with a dark, mysterious undercurrent. The Kansas City Symphony, conducted by Ramona Pansegrau, performed excellently.
Victoria Morgan choreographed an optimistic, humorous treatment of the well-known tale, with a full cast that required the first and second companies and winningly adorable students of the Kansas City Ballet School. Molly Wagner was Cinderella, a paragon of patience and humble beauty, with a sweet, ever-present smile. Her dancing was sometimes simple (twirling with a broomstick) but always poignant. She maintained a demure, stately presence, with a few funny asides, of course. Transformed for the ball, her movement was refined and elongated.
Anthony Krutzkamp was her prince, the lone serious role, fully regal, with muscular leaps. Krutzkamp, who retires at the end of the season, presented a dignified stature and athleticism difficult to match.
Their duet projected love’s duality of sweetness and grandeur. Beautiful lifts swept Cinderella into the Prince’s arms, sometimes gently, sometimes forceful, with harmonious partnering. Sometimes threatening to overbalance the story with shtick, Logan Pachciarz and Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye played the gauche, bickering stepsisters in fuzzy slippers. Jolicoeur-Nye garnered extra laughs with stolen curtain calls and awkward partnering.
Angelina Sansone was the abusive, scolding stepmother, her persona reinforced by a catty wig. Geoffrey Kropp played a sympathetic father overwhelmed by the vitriolic trio.
Male counterparts, victims of their aggressive flirtations and horrendous social skills, supported the sisters’ slapstick routines and extended the hilarity, especially nimble dancing master Ian Poulis and playfully unfortunate partners Charles Martin and Tyler Savoie. Fairy Godmother Kaleena Burks heralded a swirling, sparkling, diaphanous display of fairies and seasons, ethereal and majestic, although the ensemble choreography seemed more inspired than the solo work. Kirk Bookman’s lighting, especially the starry backdrop, reinforced the magical atmosphere. Peter Farmer designed the sets and costumes, a pastel palette enriched by jewels and elaborate wigs. Overall, “Cinderella” was overtly pleasing, beautiful to watch and stimulating to hear.
“Cinderella” continues Friday through Sunday at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. For details, go to KCBallet.org.