Sat 3/11 @ 2PM & 7PM
Sun 3/12 @ 2PM
Ballet Excel Ohio (formerly known as Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet) has been combining hard-working and talented young pre-professional ballet students with original choreography since 1975. We’ve been entertained and charmed by their productions and we’re continually surprised to learn how many of their graduates have made good locally and internationally. Consider, for instance, Brian Murphy, graduate of CVYB and a stalwart of the Northeast Ohio dance scene for many years.
In their upcoming production, Ballet Excel presents two ballets from their repertoire. Both are by nationally known choreographers well-reviewed for their work with their own adult companies as well as with youth ballets.
The Little Mermaid, set to music by French composer Andre Messager, retells the story we all know well from Hans Christian Andersen and Walt Disney. There’s light romance and peril as the free-spirited Little Mermaid (Elizabeth Coughlin) and her Prince (Max Haslinger) struggle against the evil Sea Witch (Cara Poblete) among colorfully costumed sea creatures. Ballet Excel commissioned The Little Mermaid from choreographer Tom Gold, formerly a soloist in New York City Ballet, currently directing his own NYC-based company, Tom Gold Dance, at prestigious venues.
The opening ballet on the program, USO Radio Show 1942, was originally choreographed by Francis Patrelle for his own youth company, Dances Patrelle II. A noted teacher, Patrelle also has a substantial track record choreographing for youth ballets.
Should we wax encyclopedic about the history of the United Service Organizations? No, much more fun to contemplate the many musical comedies that Hollywood churned out in the 1940s that included putting-on-a-show in some vaguely USO-like setting. Consider our favorite, You’ll Never Get Rich, with Rita Hayworth and Fred Astaire, or The Sky’s the Limit with Joan Leslie, Astaire, and terrific songs by Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen. There’s also lots of singing in Four Jills and a Jeep in which four stars of WWII USO reenact their USO tour of the British Isles and North Africa. Entertaining the troops is an idea that still has legs and we expect Ballet Excel to run with it.
Ballet Excel Ohio presents The Little Mermaid and USO Radio Show 1942 at Akron Civic Theatre on Sat 3/11 at 2pm and 7pm and Sun 3/12 at 2pm. Tickets $25, $18, and $10 are available at akroncivic , by phone 330-253-2488) or in person at the box office.
[Written by Elsa Johnson and Victor Lucas]