Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center
June 7, 2019
This Is Not The Little Prince
What do an accordion, a typewriter, marionettes, and paper airplanes all have to do with each other? They are all elements of choreographer Oliver Wevers’ creative take on the classic French short story, The Little Prince.
It begins with company member dancer Karl Watson seated at a table writing but also folding and launching paper airplanes and with multi-talented Jim Kent (dancer and musician) playing what sounds like a French folk tune on the accordion, and who is clearly the Little Prince character. If so, they meet, and pull and tug at each other, perhaps depicting the sometimes difficult creative process.
About midway through the hour-long dance, Wevers shows his sense of humor with a dance to Leroy Anderson’s famous concerto for typewriter and orchestra, with the dancers being fun and sassy and Cameron Birts showing off his amazing à la seconde turns that were both powerful and rapid — very exciting — to the cheers of the audience. (Who doesn’t love to see good technique deployed even in a story ballet?)
The very strong cast included Watson, Kent, and Birts, plus Liane Aung, Jane Cracovaner, Adrian Hoffman, and Mia Monteabaro.
I liked and enjoyed the scenic elements of suitcases and other traveling-related things hung on the back stage wall and, stage-left, a pile of white-covered furniture (like sheets over stuff) indicating the Little Prince’s perpetual and never-ending journey.
The marionettes were used as a shadow puppet show, with images of World War I planes and troops parachuting played on the back wall.
My only choreographic fuss would be that the end was too much of a downer — with Watson covering his face and mouth turning. You have to give people hope and this could have been achieved simply by Watson taking his hands and turning them over in supplication to the audience, thereby giving us this hope but also suggesting that the future is up to us.
This Is Not The Little Prince is one of Wevers’ best and strongest creations to date — ambitious, well thought out, with an arc that was easy to follow and very nicely collaborative with his co-creators of music (Brian Lawlor), lighting and set design (Michael Mazzola), and costumes by Mark Zappone.