The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Features

April 19, 2014

Hometown appeal | Concert ballet’s ‘Cinderella’ set in shadows of steel mills

JOHNSTOWN — As residents were busy digging out during a harsh winter, members of the Johnstown Concert Ballet were working equally as hard on their spring production.

The company will present a lighthearted rendition of “Cinderella” at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center in Richland Township.

The company’s artistic director, Carla Prucnal, called the production a humorous and romantic performance.

“We previously did ‘Cinderella’ in 1997 and 2007,” Prucnal said.

“And several dancers in the 2007 production will return to the company and dance some principal roles in this version.”

Triumphant story

The Johnstown Concert Ballet will tell the triumphant story of a young girl who encounters magic and love at a dazzling ball.

While the ballet is based on versions published by French author Charles Perrault and the German Brothers Grimm, Prucnal has given the ballet a hometown appeal.

The first of four acts begins with Cinderella living in the shadows of Johnstown’s steel mills and the fairy godmother first appearing as a bag lady pushing a shopping cart.

As the ballet begins, Cinderella is doing yard work, dreaming of happier times.

Bag lady appearance

The bag lady appears, begging for food. Cinderella’s stepmother forbids her to give out food.

“Cinderella offers her own food to the woman, leaving nothing to eat for herself,” Prucnal said.

An invitation arrives from the palace, inviting Cinderella’s stepsisters to the prince’s royal ball.

“The remaining three acts follow the traditional choreography of ‘Cinderella,’ which is from the late 19th century,” Prucnal said.

“Cinderella” was witten by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev to a scenario by Nikolai Volkov.

The premiere of “Cinderella” was conducted in 1945 at the Bolshoi Theatre with choreography by Rostislav Zakharov.

Nasty stepmother

Prucnal said the stepsisters are not well behaved and the stepmother is nasty.

“The bag lady becomes the fairy godmother and transforms Cinderella’s rag-gown into a beautiful princess dress,” Prucnal said.

“We also have a pumpkin turn into a carriage and there will be mice.”

She gives Cinderella a pair of glass slippers, then sends her to the ball, ordering her to return home before the clock strikes 12.

When the Prince lays eyes on Cinderella, whom nobody at the ball recognizes, he is instantly mesmerized by her.

The stepsisters try desperately to win his attention, but he is only interested in the mysterious woman with the glass slippers.

Cinderella loses track of time. When the clock starts to chime, she flees the ballroom, leaving behind one of her glass slippers.

The next day, the Prince begins to travel the world to find the girl whose foot will fit the slipper.

Professional dancers

The roles of Cinderella and the Prince will be performed by professional dancers Veronica Goldberg and Nick Fearon of Pittsburgh’s Point Park University.

“Each of the principals have appeared in professional productions while pursuing a college degree in dance,” Prucnal said.

“From our guest dancers to our own company, we strive to maintain a high quality of dance.”

Prucnal said any number of girls in the concert ballet’s senior company could have danced the role of Cinderella.

“Since finding a male dancer is challenging, we thought it would be easier for those dancers to rehearse together in Pittsburgh,” Prucnal said.

“After Easter, they will be coming to Johnstown for a full rehearsal with our dancers.”

Prucnal has reduced the normal 21⁄2-hour performance to one hour and 45 minutes.

“I’m not fond of abbreviated versions,” Prucnal said.

“The dancers work so hard that they deserve the opportunity to display their talents.”

Local dancers featured

Many local dancers will be featured in the timeless fairy-tale classic.

Kayla Esch and Patrick Mendelson, who performed in the 2007 version of “Cinderella,” will dance the roles of fairy godmother and dance master, respectively.

Other dancers and their roles are Inez Panebianco, stepmother; Lindsay Geiser, Ashley Shriver and Ruby Whorl, stepsisters; Taylor George, jester; and Jonathon Barnes, shoemaker.

Other senior company members are Madalyn Barnes, Sydney Baumgardner, Alexandra D’Arrigo, Meghana Gella, Ashley Jeschonek, Nicole Khouzami, Tristin Kresak, Morgan Lybarger, Angelina Ozeck, Theresa Ozeck, Isabella Panebianco, Abigail Rose, Ashley Shriver,  Samantha Stevanus, Christy Stewart, Emily Stewart, Laurel Steinly, Jenna Tokarsky, Cassidy Weir, Madelynn Weir and Susan Williams.

“Members of our junior company will fill in the roles of butterflies, dragonflies and fireflies during fantasy scenes,” Prucnal said.

“Everyone has a role.”

Junior company members are Lauren Anderson, Alexandra Barnhart, Abigail D’Arrigo, Penelope Lee, Taylor Mock, Bailey Popovich, Shannon Tokarsky, Teresa Parrish, Kamy Villacis,  Hannah Timcik, Lauren Connor, Kathy Goas, Ashley Hamula, Arianna Kline, Eryn McKendree, Leah Mikeasky, Christiana Parrish, Nathalie Frem, Haely Goller, Grace Messina, Preslee Metil, Jillian Moors, Alivia Nikonow, Vivian Popp, Lily Runkle, Josie Sefcik, Eva Weir, Audrey Gokey, Skylah Harrington, Lindsey Hodge, Alexandra Mock, Ivy Peterman, Natalie Riggs, Fiona Stuart, Piper Bruce, Haidee Errett, Bella Fosbrink, Shyanne Hillegas, Helena Oherrick, Clara Zandelin, Iryss Chippie, Kathleen Hodge, Evelyn Moore and Isabella Williams.

“Pardon the pun, but we are having a ball with this ballet,” Prucnal said.

“Our costumes have been updated to fit the appropriate styles in our opening act and the audience will delight at the energy and talent displayed in this production.”

Performances

What: “Cinderella,” presented by Johnstown Concert Ballet.

When: 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, 450 Schoolhouse Road, Richland Township.

Tickets: At the door.

Cost: $12.

Information: 262-7200 or www.upjarts.org.

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