By Brian Scott Lipton
If true spectacle seems in somewhat short supply on Broadway these days, New Yorkers can, at least briefly, turn to the dance stages to fulfill their need for pageantry. The San Francisco Ballet has brought its scenically dazzling take on another classic fairy tale, “Cinderella,” to Lincoln Center’s David W. Koch Theater for a brief run (through October 27). Here, the ever-inventive Julian Crouch – the designer of the Great White Way’s gasp-inducing “Big Fish” — pulls out all the scenic stops, with some help from projection designer Daniel Brodie and that master visual artist Basil Twist (who is responsible for the awe-inspiring carriage sequence). You will long remember the ever-blooming tree where Cinderella finds refuge, marvel at the floating chairs that dominate the opening of the third act, and have a nice chuckle at the animated portraits in the King’s palace.
The costumes (also by Crouch) are equally stunning, from the gold masks and blue costumes of the four male “fates” that help Cinderella (replacing the traditional fairy godmother) to the gorgeous jeweled-toned finery worn by the courtiers during the masked ball, and especially the stunning golden dress our heroine (alternately played by Maria Kochetkova and Vanessa Zahorian) appears in at the dance.
The often masterful choreographer Christopher Wheeldon provides both some lovely romantic moments and a few decidedly playful ones – especially involving Cinderella’s nasty stepmother and quirky stepsisters – but some of the movement seems ill-suited to the classic Profokiev score. Similarly, the reworked libretto by award-winning playwright Craig Lucas offers some delightful surprises, but parts of the tale get both muddied and muddled by the author’s rejiggering of the story’s familiar elements.
By the way, should you miss “Cinderella,” Tony Award winner Matthew Bourne and his frequent design collaborator Lez Brotherston are giving us a visually arresting Gothic take on “Sleeping Beauty” at New York City Center (through November 3) that borrows a little thematic inspiration from the “Twilight” series to give that story a 21st-century feel. It may not be Bourne’s finest dance piece (that honor belongs to “Swan Lake”), but it will awaken your senses.