Pacific Northwest Ballet's production of Alexei Ratmansky's Don Quixote has just become my new favorite ballet. (No joke! And it's much more entertaining than the book was back in high school. No offense, Mr. Cervantes.)
From zesty fans and clicking castanets, to marvelous feats of strength and shining technique (not to mention sumptuous sets and yummy costumes!), this production has it all -and then some!
Sunday's matinee featured principal dancers, Carla Körbes and Karel Cruz as Kitri and Basillio. And let me tell you, their spicy "cat and mouse" connection was irresistible! The two embodied their characters with all the bravado, sass and charm one would expect from the likes of this talented pair - especially when you consider their hot-blooded Latin roots! (Körbes hails from Brazil, while Cruz is originally from Cuba.)
Cruz's gravity defying, single-handed, over head lifts (with Körbes playfully shaking her tambourine high in the air as if to say, "No sweat!" - or perhaps "No fear!") were spectacular.
Actor of big and small screen fame, Tom Skerritt made for a marvelous Don Quixote! His performance as the delusional yet beloved character was spot-on. Skerritt drew you in and held you captive in Don Q's world, making you wonder if perhaps - just perhaps - he was somehow the sane one and everyone else was a bit loco.
His hilarious sidekick, Sancho Panza was portrayed by local talent, Allen Galli. I don't know how the Powers that Be at PNB came up with this guy for Sancho, but they hit the bullseye with him, that's for sure! As a matter of fact, Galli's performance was so outstanding that he threatened to steal the entire show. His expressions as he tried to get his stubborn donkey to "giddyup", as well as when the crowd in the middle of Town Square tossed him high into the air, made the audience laugh...hard! But on a more serious note, his genuine concern and admiration for Don Quixote made their roles feel more like best (drinking) buddies versus "knight errant" and "squire". Love!!
And what kind of review would this be if I didn't mention (the outstanding), Jonathan Poretta?
Poretta was cast this time as the supremely-full-of-himself, pretty little rich man Gamache, who has his heart set on marrying the lovely Kitri. It doesn't matter if it's a character role (where he's brandishing his little sword and fighting like a total girl) or a more serious part (like the Prodigal Son), Poretta delivers. It's as simple as that.
Lesley Rausch was a zesty, spicy fan-flicking Mercedes, while Jerome Tisserand "gave good cape" as the dashing Espada. Kitri's BFF's, Piccilia and Juanita were successfully tackled by the unconquerable Lindsi Dec and Laura Gilbreath. Together, these two fabulous soloists captivated the entire audience with their precision, delicious lines and thousand-watt smiles.
The second act of the show takes you deep into the wild recesses of Don's mind. After a fierce battle against windmills and creepy monsters (including sinister cactus and the Devil himself), Don is whisked into a glittering vision filled with sparkling dryads and their beloved Queen (Sarah Ricard Orza), adorable cherubs and of course, the lovely Cupid herself (Leta Biasucci).
Both Ms. Biasucci and Mrs. Orza's performances here were nothing short of pure decadence! Their light and effortless technique was well-suited to the scene's dainty pointe work and lightening fast turns.
Act three felt a bit like a filler, but a fun and dynamic filler nonetheless. Here is where our story wraps up - the "happily ever after" part, if you will. After pulling off the ultimate trick, lovers Kitri and Basillo are allowed to marry (hooray!) and the beloved Don and his faithful companion head off into the sunset in search of more (outlandish) adventures.
The standing ovation the artists received was well-deserved! Bravo, bravo, bravo!
There are only 6 performances left of Pacific Northwest Ballet's Don Quixote! Visit PNB.org for tickets.