With its 2009-2010 season, Tulsa Ballet seems to be tapping into its viewers' fondness for fantasy and fairy tales, opening its season with the theatrical Dracula and now presenting The Sleeping Beauty.
Based on the classic fairy tale, The Sleeping Beauty, staged by TB's artistic director Marcello Angelini and set to music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the production features the original choreography by Marius Petipa with some additional choreography by Angelini.
It features lavish scenery and costumes designed by two-time Tony Award winner Desmond Heeley for Houston Ballet in 1990.
"The Sleeping Beauty, together with Swan Lake, is the ultimate classical ballet," Angelini said. "By the same token, it's a production that resonates with all audiences on many different levels.
"When you add to the magnificent choreography a story that every child age 5 to 95 knows, the opulent sets and costumes, along with the glorious music by Tchaikovsky, which was also used in the Walt Disney epic movie, the result is a truly extraordinary show that can rival any and all modern Broadway sensations."
The ballet begins with King Florestan XIV and his queen celebrating the christening of their newborn daughter, Princess Aurora. The fairies of the forest are her godmothers, and they bestow their special qualities on the baby girl.
The festivities are interrupted, though, by the intrusion of Carabosse, a fairy furious at having been forgotten. She casts a spell on Aurora, predicting that, in her youth, Aurora will prick her finger and die.
The Lilac Fairy, who has yet to bestow her gift, decrees instead that Aurora will fall into a deep sleep and later be awakened by the kiss of a handsome prince, finding love and happiness. Before leaving, Carabosse swears revenge.
On the day of Aurora's 16th birthday, a servant finds peasants knitting, though needles have been forbidden from the castle for fear of Carabosse's spell. The king threatens to execute the peasants but is quieted by his wife.
In Act One (the aforementioned is titled "Prologue"), a celebration of Aurora's birthday has begun. Four princes have arrived to ask for Aurora's hand in marriage, but, as she dances with her suitors, a mysterious old woman gives Aurora a bouquet of flowers containing a dangerous spindle.
She pricks her finger with the spindle and collapses, as the old woman reveals herself as Carabosse and vanishes. The Lilac Fairy appears to comfort the court, assuring them Aurora is not dead but sleeping.
In Act Two, 100 years have passed. Prince Florimund and his hunting party pause for refreshments. Florimund is disenchanted with the world and his lack of love and companionship. Overhearing him, the Lilac Fairy presents him with a vision of the sleeping Aurora.
Entranced, the prince follows the Lilac Fairy to the sleeping beauty, awakening her with a kiss. The ballet finishes with a wedding celebration in honor of Aurora and Florimund.
The role of Aurora is danced by principal dancers Karina Gonzalez and Soo Youn Cho.
Cho ruptured her right ACL and spent a year in therapy recovering. She danced again with Tulsa Ballet in October's Dracula.
Her physical therapist, Melanie Seaman, said, "Soo Youn has a passion for dancing and is willing to do just about anything to do it."
With this broadly appealing ballet, TB is hoping to attract both children and couples. With its roots in fable and fantasy and its elaborate set and costumes, the ballet is obviously appealing to children. And being staged duing Valentine's Day weekend makes it a natural choice for couples seeking a little romance.
For those couples, Tulsa Ballet offers gift packages starting at $25 that include items such as chocolate and champagne during intermission to dinner at Fleming's Steakhouse prior to the performance.
An "Engagement Package," priced at $1,500, includes dinner for two at Fleming's, champagne for two at intermission, a $250 gift certificate from Bruce G. Weber Precious Jewels, a dozen red roses and an opportunity to propose to your valentine onstage with members of the company post performance.
Tulsa Ballet presents The Sleeping Beauty Feb. 12-14, with 8pm performances on Friday and Saturday and a 3pm performance on Sunday, at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center's Chapman Music Hall, 110 E. Second St. For ticket prices and other information, go to tulsapac.com.
Love You, Love You Not
Also in time for Valentine's Day, The Playhouse Theatre presents Joshua Salzman and Ryan Cunningham's I Love You Because.
The modern-day musical tells the story of four 20-somethings searching for love in New York City.
Austin is a young greeting card writer who finds out his long-term girlfriend Catherine has cheated on him. His brother Jeff, "the eternal bachelor," lovingly shoves him back into the dating scene, causing him to meet Marcy, a flighty photographer who both intrigues him and drives him crazy.
The musical is a contemporary reworking of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and is directed by Courtneay Sanders, The Playhouse Theatre's co-artistic director. It features a cast of six and a live orchestra, with musical direction by James Gregory, the musical theatre specialist in the University of Tulsa's Department of Theatre and Musical Theatre.
I Love You Because plays Feb. 12-14 at 8pm, Feb. 14 at 2pm and Feb. 18-20 at 8pm in the Tulsa PAC's Liddy Doenges Theatre.
Tickets are $25 and available at the PAC's Web site or by calling 596-7111.
Louder Than Words
Beginning Thursday, Feb. 11, Aberson Exhibits, 3524B S. Peoria, will present the work of Portland, Ore.-based artist Elise Wagner in a new exhibit titled, 50 Gestures.
Wagner, who works primarily in encaustics, a painting method where color-pigmented beeswax is melted, applied to a surface and reheated to fuse the paint into a smooth or textured finish, has developed a collection of work inspired by her fascination with science.
In an artist's statement, Wagner writes, "50 Gestures represents the many methods and approaches I have taken over several years with my work. The title of the exhibition refers to a swift approach in their making.
"Often preoccupied with science, I have taken great interest in geology, meteorology, astronomy, particle physics and natural phenomena. Each piece embodies a sort of whimsical control."
The exhibit opens with a reception at 6pm Thursday and continues through March 6. More information is available at abersonexhibits.com.
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