Beauty and the Beast

What could be timelier than a story that begins with a family's possessions being seized by creditors? That this traditional folk tale was first committed to paper 240 years ago brings a metaphorical depth which might otherwise be dismissed if it were based on contemporary events.

As a ballet, Beauty and the Beast has a history of reconception. The Colorado Ballet's current production was commissioned by the Hong Kong Ballet in 1999 and choreographed by Domy Reiter-Soffer to a score by Hong Kong composer Seen-yee Lam. It is an incredibly fresh interpretation, with contemporary atmospherics and modern movement tastefully mixed with romantic melodies and classical technique.

Igor Vassine as Mr. Granite
Igor Vassine as Mr. Granite
Photo: Terry Shapiro
The evocative first scene, where Mr. Granite (Igor Vassine) and his three daughters, Belle (Sharon Wehner), Ruby (Maria Mosina), and Opal (Sayaka Karasugi) commiserate over their sudden poverty, quickly draws us into the dramatic complexities of this cautionary tale. The emotional climax of this scene is a dreamlike pas de deux between Belle and her father set to a sonata.

Granite leaves his daughters behind to regain his fortune and encounters violent weather set off by the God of Wind and Storm (Luis Valdes). During the cyclonic frenzy, Granite is attacked by wolves and warriors. He escapes and enters a mysterious castle. The stage effects are striking throughout this sequence, reminding us of the cinematic fireworks in the company's famed Dracula.

Fitting suitors, Garnet (Viacheslav Buchkovskiy) and Topaz (Andrew Skeels) arrive for the two oldest daughters, but Belle must fend off the egomaniacal and aggressive Hercules (Alexei Tyukov). Eventually, she is forced to flee to the forest, where she finds her father held prisoner by The Beast (Dmitry Trubchanov). The vibrant costumes and physical struggles drive the dramatic momentum toward the castle, where the love story begins.

Dana Benton as Beauty and Dmitry Trubchanov as The Beast
Dana Benton as Beauty and
Dmitry Trubchanov as The Beast
Photo: Terry Shapiro
Trubchanov is both threatening (bolstered by roaring sound effects) and pitiable as the Prince trapped in The Beast's body. Wehner evokes gentleness and purity throughout, eventually taming the animal's nature. We have no doubt the kiss she bestows is heartfelt and that she is deserving of the magical results.

Adam Flatt conducts a 15-piece orchestra through a lovely rendition Seen-yee Lam's score, plus a section by Sibelius in Act III.

The wedding of Beauty and The Beast after his transformation
The wedding of Beauty and The Beast
after his transformation
Photo: Terry Shapiro
The multilevel allegories make it easy to see why Beauty and the Beast has been retold in so many different ways and why it adapts so easily to the ballet.

The Colorado Ballet's Beauty and the Beast runs through February 28th at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. 303-837-8888 or

Bob Bows


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