A story of a young girl who encounters magic and love at a spectacular ball will be danced by members of the Johnstown Concert Ballet at their annual spring production.
The company will present “Cinderella” at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus in Richland Township.
Carla Prucnal, the company’s artistic director, said that the company last performed “Cinderella” in 2014 and that they thought it was time to bring the ballet back to the stage and see how they could redo the production by giving it a Johns-town feel.
“This is a four-act ballet, so it’s a very intensive ballet, and there are so many details, props and costumes,” she said. “It’s going to be a wonderful production.”
“Cinderella” was written by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev to a scenario by Nikolai Volkov. The premiere of “Cinderella” was conducted in 1945 at the historic Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Russia, with choreography by Rostislav Zakharov.
The first of four acts begins with Cinderella living in the shadows of Johnstown’s steel mills and the fairy godmother first appearing as a bag lady pushing a shopping cart.
As the ballet begins, Cinderella is doing yard work, dreaming of better times. A beggar woman appears, asking for food, but Cinderella’s stepmother forbids her to give out food. Cinderella decides to give the bag lady her own food, leaving herself nothing to eat.
An invitation arrives from the palace, inviting Cinderella’s stepsisters to the prince’s royal ball. The stepsisters are not well-behaved and the stepmother is an awful woman.
The bag lady becomes the fairy godmother and transforms Cinderella’s ragged gown into a beautiful dress. She gives Cinderella a pair of glass slippers, then sends her on her way to the ball, ordering her to return home before the clock strikes midnight.
When the prince lays eyes on Cinderella, who nobody at the ball recognizes, he is instantly mesmerized by her. The stepsisters try desperately to win his attention, but he is only interested in the mysterious woman with the glass slippers.
Cinderella loses track of time. When the clock starts to chime, she flees the ballroom, leaving behind one of her glass slippers. The next day, the prince begins to travel the world to find the girl whose foot will fit the slipper.
“The costumes for the production are exquisite, and we try to update them to make them as beautiful as possible,” Prucnal said. “We’re trying to make the scene with the fairy godmother as opposite to the first scene as possible, so Cinderella dreams that she is transported
from Johnstown to this beautiful ball.”
The role of the prince will be performed by Pittsburgh dancer Jackson Gromley. Megan Chiu, a Pittsburgh dancer, will dance the part of Cinderella. The part of the dance master will be performed by Bradley Keller, of Pittsburgh.
“We get wonderful dancers from either Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre or Point Park University who perform with us,” Prucnal said.
The fairy godmother’s part will be danced by company member Lauren Anderson. Company member Madalyn Barnes will perform the role of the stepmother. Ashley Hamula, Avary Shander and Shannon Tokarsky, all company members, will dance the parts of the stepsisters.
“The girls have been working so hard, and we’ve performed excerpts from ‘Cinderella’ several times already in the community,” Prucnal said. “They’ve tried to make this as beautiful as possible, and they’ve really put some intensive work into this.”
Senior company members are Megana Gella, Ashley Jeschonek, Haley Mosorjak, Grace Messina, Lily Runkle and Hannah Timcik.
Junior company members include Haidee Errett, Lyza Johnson, Morgan Mann, Circe Myers, Evelyn Moore, Lucia Niida, Elora Scherer, Sophia Thompson, Marianna Weaver, Lucie Doty, Josie Hill, Zoe Jeschonek, Taylor Ling, Alana Respet, Olivia Tallari, Meara Gleason, Laura Lynch, Aleena Tilley, Jessica Moore, Savanah Rais, Regan Reynolds, Sophia Vivian and Addison Zborovancik.
Other junior company members are Sophie Davenport, Kaelyn Deater, Bella Dixon, Zane Kendig, Meradi Knapp, Shelby Miller, Kennedy Newman, Hazel Peterman, Bristyl Plunkard, Kendra Regan, Ana Sultan, Ava Skowron, Jocelynn Zubay, Caitlyn Albright, Amelia Darbouze, Mackenzie Kendig, Peyton Owen, Alaina Tallari and Margaret Zajdel.
“Some get to dance with Cinderella, and some dance with the fairy godmother, and it’s just so magical,” Prucnal said. “I’ve never seen them enjoying a ballet as much as they are enjoying this one.”
The Johnstown Concert Ballet is known for its annual Christmas production of “The Nutcracker,” and Prucnal said that, every spring, the company likes to perform a show of original choreography.
“We are a regional company, and we try to do in our repertoire actual ballets, and when we do a ballet like ‘Cinderella,’ we try to hold true to the original choreography as much as possible,” Prucnal said.
“Every year I try to choose a ballet that represents a different style in classic ballet. We want our dancers to not only perform, but also learn something about the history of dance and style of dance they’re doing.”
Prucnal hopes audiences who see the performance will have a greater appreciation of the talented dancers in Johnstown.
“The dancers put so much time and effort into this, and they are committed to putting on an actual professional production and
making it as wonderful as possible,” she said.
Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door. To order tickets, call 814-269-7200 or visit www.upj.org.