After a thrilling production of John Neuemeier’s Spring and Fall, Cape Town City Ballet stages the magical love story of Hans Christian Anderson’s Thumbelina choreographed and directed by Robin van Wyk. As part of its Youth Project, Cape Town City Ballet has teamed up with a variety of dance schools across Cape Town to create an opportunity for young upcoming performers to experience a professional theatrical production.
Every element of the production is flamboyant, creating the ultimate children’s fairytale. Rich décor fills the stage with colour, and elaborate costumes and vast yet swift set changes add to the magic. Some wonderfully extravagant entrances are made, including the arrival of the heroic Prince from the top of the stage on a bumblebee, to inevitable gasps and applause from the audience.
The production opens with a beautiful musical overture, introducing some familiar melodies that crop up during the course of the story.
Some adorable – and very young – dancers perform the roles of chicks, flowers, mice, fairies, lovebirds and jitterbugs. Elizabeth Nienaber dances the lead role of Thumbelina. Her crisp clean technique and articulate facial expressions capture the essence of the character and show her to be a wonderful performer. Nienaber forms a strong partnership with Prince Cornelius, Ivan Boonzaaier, but there is room for more chemistry between the lovers. The King and Queen of the Fairies Freida Mennen and Marc Goldberg dance with flare creating beautiful lines, the queen dancing particularly eloquently as she sparkes along with the disco ball.
The clear audience favourites are Mrs. Toad and the goofy Mr. Toad – their comic element nailed by dancers Claire Spector and Conrad Nusser. And Jesse Milligan as Mr Bug plays it cool, and performing a jazzy tap number with swag, and grooving to the music while jiggling his antenna. The experienced Johnny Bovang performs a wonderful characterization as the ravishing Mr. Mole, and his take on the wealthy blind boar is absolutely superb.
This is a performance of magic and mysticism, culminating in an impressive presage lift from the leads. An enchanting collaboration that will be enjoyed by all ages.
Cape Town City Ballet’s Thumbelina runs at the Artscape Theatre 24 October to 1 November 2014.