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Theater Review: Ballet enchants crowd with ‘Beauty’

Liz Ortiz
Staff Writer

The Inland Pacific Ballet told a tale as old as time in its adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast” at the Bridges Auditorium in Claremont on April 26.

The ballet featured soloist Shelby Whallon as Beauty and guest artist Cameron Schwanz as Beast in Victoria Koenig and Kevin Frank Meyers’ original production.

In just two acts, the unlikely pair of Beauty and Beast grow to share a genuine love for each other that blossoms the way two white roses do.

In this adaptation, an evil fairy cast a spell on the prince and turned him into a beast.

He is ashamed and angered by his transformation, but finds sanctuary in his garden of roses and his most prized possessions: his two white roses.

Beauty’s father promises her he would bring her a white rose on his way home from his travels.

He stumbles upon Beast’s garden and then picks one of the white roses for his daughter.

Beast becomes enraged and sentences him to imprisonment in the castle, but Beauty’s father begs Beast to let him deliver the gift to his daughter and promises to return after he sees her one last time.

Beauty learns of her father’s bargain and decides to take his place.

On her way to the castle, Beauty is attacked by a pack of wolves, and Beast came to her rescue then took her back to the palace.

Initially Beauty cannot confront Beast because of his monstrous appearance and rejects numerous marriage proposals from him.

Beauty later learns that her father’s health is declining, influencing her decision to leave the castle and take care of him.

After several weeks, Beauty uses the white rose’s magic to see Beast, and she realizes he is sick and dying.

She leaves home to tend to Beast. Upon her arrival at the castle, she accepts Beast’s marriage proposal and breaks the spell, transforming Beast back to his original form.

The ballet was based on the original French fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast,” rather than the Disney version of the story, which gave the performance and story a refreshing perspective.

The performance was one of the most professional in the area and could have found its way onto the stage in a Los Angeles theater.

Every aspect of the performance was engaging — the choreography, the music and the costume design.

The choreography was simple but eye-catching. The dancers displayed nearly perfect technique and were light on their feet.

Most notable was Whallon and Schwanz’s Pas de Deux pieces, couples ballet dances.

Their chemistry on stage was remarkable since they fed off each other’s movements and emotions, which allowed the audience to connect with the performance.

Since the performance was a ballet, the dancers had to rely on their choreography and facial expressions to portray the action.

There was never a moment of confusion as to what was happening during the performance.

The music also helped convey the story. The music for the village scenes was light-hearted in contrast with the music from Beast’s scenes, which was dark and ominous.

It is evident that there was no expense spared for the production’s costume design.

The staged glistened as the dancers came out for the final number, and all the cast was adorned in white ensembles accented with crystals.

The headpieces used for Beast and the wolves were also well constructed and more realistic than in other productions.

There were a few technical difficulties during the show, but it did not ruin the experience.

A dancer did not land her pirouette and briefly broke character, another dancer’s lace came untied, which was distracting to the audience, and the wrong song began playing during one of the scenes.

The performance was delightful overall and gave a new perspective to a classic tale.

Liz Ortiz can be reached at elizabeth.ortiz@laverne.edu.

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