I admit that initially I was skeptical about going to review an adults-only, “baroque-burlesque-ballet Cinderella,” presented by Company XIV and AMDM productions down in the Village at the Minetta Lane Theatre. In my head, I thought “Porn Cinderella” and that is what I expected.
Wrong. So wrong.
This is some serious shit: serious dancing, singing, gymnastic orgiastic permutations of every kind. Gender-bending, too. At two and a half hours with two intermissions for “cocktail breaks” (no rest for the performers, however, who burlesque their way through those as well) “Cinderella,” reimagined by impresario Austin McCormick, easily could have been twice as long, the audience twice as enthralled. We’d be there, still.
The familiar story unfolds with music, movement, and hardly any dialogue: the orphaned Cinderella (the astonishing classically-trained dancer Allison Ulrich) is severely mistreated by her diva-demon Step-mother (the outrageously flamboyant Damon Rainey) and operatically-inclined, conjoined Step-Sisters (Marcy Richardson and Brett Umlauf). But the lonely Prince (Steven Truman-Gray, an equally astonishing dancer, singer and a match for Ullrich) needs a companion, and so throws a Ball, inviting everyone in the kingdom. Cinderella is locked in a cage on the eve of the Ball, so she will be going nowhere, until a Fairy arrives (Katrina Cunningham, sultry and silky-voiced), freeing her, granting her wishes and giving her the right shoes.
You know the rest, right?
But not the way Company XIV does it. The visuals here are sumptuous: the audience is first greeted with a mist of red haze and gliding bodies in white; the costumes begin with shreds of Louis the XIV, corsets and wigs, and extend to contemporary pasties, glitter and codpieces. The music runs the gamut from classical “None But the Lonely Heart” in French to contemporary ballads, depending on the scene, and the mix works. I dare you not to be moved when Cinderella and the Prince first meet, by both music and dance plus chemistry. Or not to be wowed at the Prince’s bathtub entrance. Or not to want that Step-Mother to get her comeuppance.
The choreography is first-rate, and the performers in this company – whose backgrounds including Juilliard training, Cirque du Soleil, The Martha Graham School – are just incredible. It is a testament to Director/Choreographer Austin McCormick that he chooses not only multi-talented people, but also different shapes and sizes, rather the way Mark Morris does.
And the show is sexy. How could it not be? These bodies in motion are glorious. What those bodies do is impressive – in heels, in spikes, in toe shoes – and occasionally, in this show, breathtaking.
This is not Disney’s “Cinderella.” Do not bring children. Do bring a wide-open mind.