Thinking of a trip to Manhattan to see a Broadway musical? Head, instead, to the Carolina Ballet’s “The Little Mermaid” before it closes on Feb. 19.
The production is frothy, fun and flawless. The dancing is wonderful, choreography delightful, music compelling, costumes inventive, set design imaginative, lighting (as always) stellar, Broadway-like songs charming, and acting – yes, acting – delightful.
Audience members thought so. They clapped loudly, some adults jumping from their seats. The children in attendance were captivated – with the little girls in gossamer dresses dancing through intermission.
Choreographer Lynn Taylor-Corbett has achieved what she set out to do: Create a ballet with all the drama of Broadway. Her expert staging allows for a seamless blending of movement and music, with easy-to-follow narration, colorful characters and images for adults and children alike to enjoy. The whole enterprise is spiced with humor, producing an overall effect mesmerizing and filled with emotion and flair.
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Prima ballerina Margaret Severin-Hansen is a perfect little mermaid, her dancing so light it’s almost evanescent. Well into the ballet, she appears in her mermaid tail, executing a series of tiny en-pointe steps (known as bourrées), quite the physical feat. Her visceral portrayal of a mermaid’s pain from having two legs is also remarkable.
The Sea Witch, played by Randi Osetek, provides a rock-star quality. All the dancers offer arresting performances, from the impeccable timing of the two seahorses to the polished charm of six gullible goldfish, played by children. And who can resist a prince, played by Yevgeny Shlapko, who appears at the end nearly bare-chested?
Also on the program was artistic director Robert Weiss’ “Petit Ballet Romantique,” a sumptuous, difficult piece. The female corps executed precision leg moves, although on opening night their arms needed at times the same precision. The male dancers at times showed the physical strain of holding their partners, and at one point a dancer off-stage forgot the audience can see what is happening in the wings. Despite these small lapses, beautiful choreography.
All in all, a great evening.
What: “The Little Mermaid” and “Petit Ballet Romantique”
When: 1 and 5 p.m., Feb. 18, 2 p.m. Feb. 12 and 19.
Where: Fletcher Opera Theater, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh
Tickets: Start at $35 plus fees