I love the theatre. Growing up, I remember seeing Cats when I was young. To date, I have seen Phantom of the Opera live six times (including three times in NYC), and now I own more Sarah Brightman music than I thought. I have seen the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes’ perfect kick line in their Christmas Spectacular. I’ve braved the holiday crowds to lose myself in the holiday spectacle that is The Nutcracker. I transported back in time to the golden era of Frank Sinatra in Come Fly Away. I saw Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette tear the ever loving roof off the house in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. I’ve even fought jetlag and giddiness as I took in the Spice Girls’ musical Viva Forever! Since leaving New York and jet setting, I’ve been craving for an opportunity to escape reality, and slip into the dreamscape of the theatre once again. So when Yelp Orlando and the Orlando Ballet offered up a joint effort to support the arts, my heart was already RSVPing before my brain could wrap around the excitement!
When it comes to the finer arts, I fully embrace my role as an audience member. Although dance recitals featuring ballet and tap performances were a part of my childhood, I never fully embraced the star power necessary to command center stage. Even when I was harangued into participating in language contests and delivering a speech for my high school graduation, I never fully managed to harness my stage fright. When it came to theatre, my hopes and dreams were shattered in the seventh grade by the drama club teacher. Assigned to be a stage manager, I still remember her yelling at me on opening night for my “horrendous timing” when it came to opening and closing the curtain. Needless to say, I became quite comfortable supporting The Arts from the cheap seats, comfortably lost in each story and day dreaming of writing something equally beautiful.
After vanquishing this demon in high school by white-knuckling the podium at graduation as I gave the opening remarks to my classmates and over 2,000 guests, my blasted stage fright resurfaced several months later my Freshman year in college with a wickedly driven vengeance. In the highly competitive Telecommunication Journalism track, my competition deemed me to be in the categories of “Faces Best Suited For Radio” and “Voices Best Saved for Print.” I was a solid writer, so the summer of prior to my junior year, I jumped ship and swam over to the English Department, seeking refuge in books, ink and imagination.
I wouldn’t venture as far as to call myself an artist or a true writer for that matter because I don’t feel like I create enough or consistently to be worthy of the title. As an avid daydreamer, I always wonder “what if.” What if one day something I write not only gains momentum, but takes on a life of its own…? What if a single book, short story, poem, or witty line of dialogue develops into something bigger, stronger, and more incredible than life…? What if it not only lives its life, but attains immortality…? That was the simply hook that caught my attention with Coppélia.
About the Show
A comedy of crazy love played out in a ballet. A young man dumps his flesh-and-blood paramour for a life-size dancing doll created by a mysterious inventor, think Weird Science meets toe shoes and tutus. Robert Hill’s adaptation of ballet’s light-hearted comedy will capture one’s imagination as the lines between reality and fantasy become blurred in this quirky love story.
In a modern age where the lines between fantasy and reality are truly blurred, the concept of a lonely individual crafting an ideal companion is not far from the mark. However, when Coppélia was written in 1870, it seemed absolutely beyond the scope of reason, yet over a hundred years later, it could be considered a part of modern day reality. There are comparisons between Coppélia and The Nutcracker, especially with regard to a mysterious man and dolls coming to life. However, that is merely where their stories intersect, and begin to diverge from one another. An excellent synopsis, explaining the three acts of the ballet can be found here. Knowing that ballets can be long and devoid of any dialogue, I wanted to be prepared going in. Nothing irks me more than hearing “I don’t understand what is going on…” during the show. Learning about a stage show before going is like reading the book before seeing the movie. Do your homework so you can appreciate it more.
This year has been nothing short of exhausting for the pair of us. Between my job transition, house hunting and end of the semester duties for Doc, we haven’t left The Nona much lately. So, I was truly thankful for the opportunity to not only have a downtown Orlando date night, but a chance to share a new experience together. While I’m pop music and top 40, and he’s 80s rock and metal, we both share an appreciation for fine arts. (Heck, our first date included a visit to The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park, so we can be fancy folk when we want, too!) While Doc’s been to an opera or two, this was his first ballet. Not that I have been to all that many either, but I always feel like a little girl bubbling with excitement when I get to go to the theatre, more so when I get to attend with someone special.
Doc and I arrived early at the Dr. Phillips Center, so we elected to decompress from a hectic work week over drink at Harry’s Bar on the first floor. Arriving early certainly has its perks. With a a few other early birds, we were able to not only take our time ordering, but able to leisurely enjoy our beverages while we waited for our friend to arrive. The beverages were very reasonably priced and poured slightly on the heavy side. When I ordered a bourbon and ginger ale, the bartender and I had a howl of laughter when he asked if I wanted a single or a double! I reminded him I wanted to be AWAKE for the ballet! He made a killer, Doc Approved Gin & Tonic as well!
If possible, I recommend arriving at a venue early, especially if hunting for parking in downtown stresses you our like it does me (and Doc was the one driving!) If you arrive early, get your pre-show beverages, and clear out your head before the show. If you’re feeling fancy (or short for time), preorder your intermissions drinks! (Yes, that is totally a thing!!) I made the mistake of thinking I could quickly nab a coffee at first intermission, but thankfully beverages (not food) were allowed inside the Walt Disney Theater.
The Karen-terpretation of Coppélia
I often forget that ballet can be both elegant and comedic! The performance given by Orlando Ballet’s Cast A was quirky, cute, and left me wanting to know when I could come back again!! The performance was absolutely beautiful from the fairytale costuming, simple, but elegant set designs, and most importantly the fantastic dancing.
There is no better gym motivation than seeing a bunch of men rocking tights tighter than any Spanx I’ve ever worn. When you can see chiseled muscles on the men and woman from the mezzanine balcony, you know these folks are not only graceful, but uber-fit! Although there were tutus a plenty, you could see true feats of strength performed by the ladies in the cast as well. They make me want to sign up for every barre class across Orlando now.
For those unfamiliar with the story of Coppélia, I recommend chasing up a detailed description because the performance did not have any narration and the blurb in the program was very brief. You may finally the unlock the secrets of “Whispering Wheat” and clearly understand Dr. Coppelius’ machinations in what could be considered a heady cocktail of Weird Science meets Dr. Frankenstein meets Mannequin meets Pinnocchio meets Pygmalion. If there is a complete story out there, I now want to read it all thanks to The Orlando Ballet.
Like many productions at the Dr. Phillips Center, Coppélia had a very limited run: only a single weekend run during May 1st-3rd. The full-length performances (including two 15-minute intermissions) were also given on Saturday, May 2nd at 8PM and Sunday, May 3rd afternoon at 2PM. There was an abbreviated, one hour version entitled “The Magical Princess Doll” performed Saturday morning. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to finally experience the talent of the Orlando Ballet, and now I cannot wait to see what they present next!
Sections of this post were pulled from my Yelp* Elite Event Review on opening night (Friday, May 1, 2015). I was given two complimentary tickets to the ballet, but the review (including the color commentary) both here and there are personally my own.