note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Moxie
What a pleasure it was to attend Boston Balletıs season opener "Midsummer Night's Dream"! It's just what the doctor ordered after these terrible, terrible two weeks.
What a pleasure, in fact, to find a story ballet where the choreography (by the gifted Bruce Wells) is the thing. And itıs not the only thing either: there are also lyrical costumes, an entrancing woodland set and the music of Felix Mendelssohn - and of course the dancers. The much-publicized upheaval at the company last year and its attendant change in personnel has not detracted from the quality of the product as some have feared it might. Whatever effect the stress may have had on morale, the performers come through for us on stage with colors flying.
It is good to see Tara Hench (Helena) in fine form again after foot surgery. She is maturing as a comic actress too. Her appealing personality makes her desperate pursuit of Demeitrius (Gianni Di Marco), who is in love with Hermia , seem downright charming. She has disgruntled down and doesn't over-play or descend to slapstick. (One of the most enjoyable aspects of this production is the integration of dance, acting and mime.) Di Marco reeks of disinterest in her and their highly coordinated mismatch is quite funny. Sarah Lambe as Hermia is simply lovely in every way. As Lysander, Hermiaıs lover, Victor Plotnikov is adorably flirtatious; he uses his eyes and smile with the same versatility as his body.
Impressive new dancers have joined the company, too, to help make up for the loss of previous favorites like Lyn Tally and Mark Estrada. Gael Lambiotte (newly arrived from Amsterdam) and Herve´ Courtain (from Paris), as Oberon and Puck respectively, form a perfect team. Oberon is tall, golden and sensuously imperious; Puck is mischievous and silly, a loveable screw-up with a flair for drama. Their opposite demeanor makes the synchronized interactions the more delightful, and is another example of the expertise that Boston Ballet is developing in comic mime.
Jennifer Glaze (Titania) and Zack Grubbs (Bottom) also entertain us with a light and easy touch as the fairy queen succumbs to a sudden passion for Bottom,the Rustic turned into an ass by Oberon's plots and potions. However all is set to rights before the ballet ends and both fairies and mortals celebrate their various marriages and unions. Dozens of tiny and full-sized fairies fill up the stage as part of Titania's and Oberon's entourage, some flowing behind them like living trains, some sweeping from one side to the other and captivating the audience as only children can.
Ms. Glaze, who is retiring with this production, gives one of her best performances ever in the final pas de deux with Oberon. The two seem to meld into one, reacting to the subtle choreography with sensitivity and grace.
All in all it is a balanced and satisfying production, with no sour notes and much to enjoy and sooth the soul.