Out & About: Fantastic tales of times past

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Tales of history and fantasy reign over this week’s top picks in the performing arts.

Tops in my opinion is Portland Players’ truly inspired community production of “Camelot,” the 1960 Broadway musical version of the ancient British tales of King Arthur.

This past weekend in Falmouth, Maine State Ballet opened its superb production of “Cinderella,” the terspsichorean take on the popular fairy tale from the Middle Ages.

Classical terpsichorean art is also the shtick of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, a company of male ballerinas. That’s not a misprint. The Trocks appear this Friday, part of Portland Ovations’ 2018-2019 season.

‘Camelot’

Human nobility and frailty are the antipodal forces that drive “Camelot,” the famed 1960 Broadway musical with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. Based on the legends of King Arthur and his Round Table of knights, particularly as related in T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King,” this show was one of the most popular of the golden age of Broadway musicals.

Portland Players is currently running a truly inspired community production of “Camelot,” full of many bright and shining moments delivered by director Michael Donovan, music director Evan Cuddy and an outstanding cast.

The central characters are King Arthur (Karl Livonius) and wife Guenevere (Colleen Katana). Both actors have commanding stage presence and fine voices worthy of the lushly lyrical score. The kingdom’s serene happiness is disrupted and ultimately destroyed by human weaknesses, beginning with an illicit love affair between the queen and the strongest of Arthur’s knights, Sir Lancelot du Lac (Joseph Hitchcock).

Tops among the three principals is Katana, whose drop-dead loveliness and pure soprano voice project all the way to the back rows. So it wasn’t a bit surprising to learn that she has a substantial resume as a professional, with several regional theaters and national tours to her credit.

The comic gem of the show is Pellinore (L. John Van Norden), an eccentric nobleman whose antics serve to leaven both happy and sad moments.

Portland Players, 420 Cottage Road in South Portland, presents “Camelot” through April 7 with 7:30 p.m. performances Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Call 799-7337.

‘Cinderella’

One of the great works of classical ballet is currently running in Falmouth, where Maine State Ballet is performing “Cinderella,” the terpsichorean take on one of history’s most popular fairly tales.

I checked it out this past weekend and I was totally pleased, beginning with Rhiannon Pelletier’s performance in the title role, first introduced as little more than a put-upon scullery maid, then finding herself in the embrace of a handsome prince at the finale. Michael Hamilton, a former professional dancer, performed handsomely as Prince Charming.

The scene-stealers were a trio of comic characters, Cinderella’s stepmother, played by Christine Marshall, and her two step-sisters, played by Caitlin Bodlovick and Christina Williams. Great buffoonery!

While there were simply too many dancers to name, let’s cite a quartet of fairies who correspond to the four seasons: Emma Davis, Laura Moskevich, Ellen Parkinson and Emily Stinneford.

The company’s choreography is totally original, created by founder-artistic director Linda MacArthur Miele. Gail Csoboth created the splendid costumes and scenery.

Maine State Ballet, 348 Route 1 in Falmouth, presents “Cinderella” through April 7 with 6 p.m. performances on Fridays, 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sundays. Call 781-3587.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo

Turning classical ballet on its antipodal head is the mission of an unusual dance company performing Friday under the auspices of Portland Ovations.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo bills itself as “The World’s Foremost All-Male Comic Ballet Company.” Informally, they also embrace the “Dancing Queens” moniker and even more briefly, simply as “the Trocks.”

The New York-based company comprises about 10 men, dressed in tutus and pointe shoes, performing famous scenes from classical ballet. The Trocks have been fabulously successful, and count hundreds of performances all over the world since forming in 2003.

Writing about last fall’s seven-week tour of the British Isles, Financial Times reviewer Louise Levene commented: “It shouldn’t really be possible to recreate the glories of the Russian Imperial ballet with such severely limited means. Classical ballet — as any cash-strapped artistic director will tell you — cannot be produced on the cheap and yet here are the Trocks with minimal scenery, taped music, budget tutus and hairy chests conjuring up the great ballets and ballerinas of the past.”

Catch Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo at Merrill Auditorium at Portland City Hall at 8 p.m. March 29. Call PortTix at 842-0800.

An illicit romance between Queen Guenevere and Sir Lancelot du Lac leads to the destruction of the first united kingdom of Britain in the musical “Camelot,” which runs through April 7 in South Portland.

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