Sunday, February 06, 2000

Ballet stages wickedly fun 'Musketeers'

Enquirer contributor

        You need a road map to follow all the twists and turns that occur in Cincinnati Ballet's production of The Three Musketeers. It doesn't matter — the ballet's too much fun to worry about a little thing like plot.

        So far as anyone knows, no other choreographer has tackled putting Alexandre Dumas' swashbuckling story to ballet steps.

        Andre Prokovsky's version has been around since the 1980s, but this is Cincinnati Ballet's first stab at it.

        It's a guaranteed hit, sure to find a permanent home in the repertory.

        Fun and funny while staying true to romantic ballet's needs, there's good corps work and a great pas de deux or two to show off the stars. Having the most fun on stage is Alexei Kremnev as D'Artagnan.

        He plays this fourth musketeer broadly, showing an eager and open sense of humor.

        He dances with gusto and attacks an abundance of jumps and turns without hesitation.

        His partners in swordplay and soaring leaps are Miroslav Pejic, Hong Yu and Andrey Kasatsky as the three musketeers — all in their first season here.

        They are wonderful examples of the depth the company is enjoying in male dancers.

        Anna Reznik is a tigress as Milady, displaying a wickedness in nearly every turn and kick she takes as the ballet's protagonist.

        On the good guy (and gal) side, you have Queen Anne (Zsuzsanna Bokor), sweet Constance (Leah Elzner) and Lord Buckingham (Rene Micheo), in addition to the musketeers.

        On the bad side, besides Milady there is Cardinal Richelieu (Calin Radulescu) and the cardinal's guards led by Rochefort (Jay Goodlett). Somewhere in the middle is foppish King Louis XVII (Gregg Saulnier).

        There's a disappearing diamond necklace, fencing, murder and love in a melodrama anxious to please. It's set to music by Giuseppe Verdi, which meets the lighthearted needs of the ballet throughout with an emphasis on big flourishes — lots of them.

        There are duets for Queen Anne and Lord Buckingham (romantic), Milady and about half the men (mostly spicy), Constance and D'Artagnan (sweet and gauzy and accompanied by a sweet violin solo for Kiki Bussell), and Constance and Queen Anne (unusual to have two ladies as partners). They were fun to watch and stretched the dancers.

        Sets and costume designs by Peter Farmer were just right. It's a plus to have a full-length ballet with this much going for it added to the ballet's roster.

        The Three Musketeers continues today at 2 p.m. at the Aronoff Center's Procter & Gamble Hall, 241-7469.


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