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Entertainment & Lifestyle

Ballet Theatre of Ohio bringing ‘Sleeping Beauty’ to Civic

4/23/2015 - West Side Leader
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By Pam Lifke

Ballet Theatre of Ohio will reprise its production of “Sleeping Beauty” May 2-3 at the Akron Civic Theatre.
Photo courtesy of Ballet Theatre of Ohio
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Ballet Theatre of Ohio (BTO) will reprise its production of “Sleeping Beauty” May 2-3 at the Akron Civic Theatre.

Last performed in 2010, the full-length ballet is staged with children in mind.

“I encourage parents to bring children,” said BTO Artistic Director Christine Meneer. “Children as young as 3 will sit mesmerized on the edge of their seats.”

The ballet, which tells an adapted version of the classic fairytale, is set to music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

“The music is magnificent — very colorful, clear and easily tells the story,” Meneer said.

The show features lavish costumes for which BTO is known, she said.

“It has so much action, so much color and so much vibrancy,” she said. “It’s a must-see performance. I highly encourage parents to bring that experience to their children. Live theater — there’s nothing like it.”

Special activities before the show will enhance the experience, according to BOT officials. For no additional charge, children ages 12 and younger can participate in The King’s Quest, which begins one hour prior to each performance. Young knights and ladies can slay dragons and test their skills in archery, jousting and sleuthing, Meneer said. The experience ends with each child being “knighted” by King Stefan. Boys are presented with a shield or sword and girls receive crowns, she said.

Children in the audience also will have an important part in the production, Meneer said. At the beginning of Act II, they will be asked to help the Prince find Aurora, who is deep in the castle, by raising lighted red roses, which will be available before each show, she said.

Meneer, who choreographed and designed costumes for the production, is directing a cast of professional and semiprofessional dancers. The role of Aurora, the story’s heroine, is danced by Jennifer Safonovs, of the Mansfield-based Neos Dance Theatre. Safonovs is a familiar face on the BTO stage, having trained and danced with BTO for 20 years, she said.

The role of the Prince will be danced by Damien Highfield, of GroundWorks DanceTheater. Highfield also was cast as the Prince in BTO’s 2010 production.

Kelly Meneer, Meneer’s daughter, also is reprising her role as the evil Carabosse, who curses baby Aurora.

BTO dancer Mika Takahashi is cast as The Lilac Fairy.

The fairies of Beauty and Happiness are danced by BTO’s Hannah Smolinski and Joanna Sullivan and the Bluebird pas de deux is danced by Christina Van Buskirk and Brian Murphy. Gary Lenington dances the role of the King.

Other BTO dancers in the production are Rachel Rauh as Cindrella, Haley Boggs as Little Red Riding Hood and Olivia Chan as Snow White. Other guest artists are Blane Mader and Nigel Tau, of BalletMet in Columbus.

According to BTO officials, the production was choreographed in 2006 and dedicated to the memory of Paul A. Daum, Ph.D. The set includes a castle scene and a woods scene designed by Jack Gwinn.

“Sleeping Beauty” will be presented May 2 at 2 and 7 p.m. and May 3 at 2 p.m. at the Akron Civic Theatre, 182 S. Main St. Doors will open one hour earlier for The King’s Quest.

Reserved seat tickets cost $38, $26 and $18 and are available through the Akron Civic Theatre Box Office at 330-253-2488 or from TicketMaster at 330-945-9400. Discounts of up to 25 percent are available when patrons use code MM15 to purchase tickets by phone from the box office, Meneer said.

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