Cinderella goes jazzy with Neos Dance ballet

Arts / Article

Mardi Gras may be just over with Lent rolling in, but Neos Dance Theatre will be keeping the fun the frivolity going with its production of “Creole Cinderella.”

Representatives of the company say that Neos’ version is an “outrageous, silly and often touching retelling of the classical tale.” The ballet follows the basic original storyline of “Cinderella: or, the Little Glass Slipper,” with a notable exception.

In the Neos telling, the story is set in pre-World War I New Orleans – and thus the Creole element in the title. This allows for lots of the elements of fun, with a kind of Mardi Gras atmosphere in lieu of the palace ball and the addition of classic “Nawlins” tunes like “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “Basin Street Blues, and certainly “When the Saints Go Marching In.” All this alone should make for a fun dance-filled evening.

The tale is a universal one of oppression and neglect and ultimate triumph. There are variations on the story and the characters of course, but the essential elements of a young woman being abused and mistreated by her stepfamily who ends up gaining the favor of a prince for her innate charms and beauty.

“Creole Cinderella.” Photo courtesy of Akron Civic Theatre

For Neos Dance Theatre, resident choreographer Mary Elizabeth Fenn created an original dance for the entire company. Artistic director Robert Wesner will be in the work, as will Brooke Wesner and Akron nartives Jennifer Moll Safonovs, Katie Edmonds and Juliana Freude. Other cast members are  niversity of Akron graduates Erin Buck and Anna Trumbo, with Jens Lee Peterson appearing as the evil stepmother.

"Creole Cinderella." Photo courtesy of Akron Civic Theatre

“Creole Cinderella.” Photo courtesy of Akron Civic Theatre

There will be live music – always a treat with dance since it doesn’t usually happen.

Once again for a dance venue, Akron Civic Theatre, a Knight Arts grantee, will be utilizing the central stage to create a cabaret-style setting. That setup will draw the audience closer to the action of the dance and give a decided enhancement to the music and the movement. It’s a great idea.

Neos Dance Theatre will present its “Creole Cinderella” on Thursday, February 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Akron Civic Theatre, 182 S. Main St., Akron; 330-253-3488; Tickets are $25.