If you like your ballet with a dose of comedy – alongside the requisite stunning costumes and dancing – Cinderella does not disappoint.
My 9-year-old daughter guffawed when the clown-like evil stepsisters vainly attempt to learn some dancing graces from an elegant dance teacher and fight over which fluffy frock to wear to the ball. More laughs came when the handsome prince's court jester – an especially acrobatic dancer – deftly blocks the social-climbing sisters from monopolizing the prince's dance card, including by lifting one's skirts in jest.
It's always fun for kids to see other kids on stage. This production uses many young dancers (we especially loved the dancers dressed as what looked to be flies and butterflies who escort Cinderella's carriage to the ball). They show up as evil sprites and good fairies and dancing pumpkins who serve to warn Cinderella of her midnight deadline.
When the curtain goes up to show the ball, all the dancers are clad in dramatic blood red (my daughter let out a "wow"). The only potentially scary moment for young children is when the mysterious beggar woman (cloaked in black) shows up, but she turns into the lovely fairy godmother in fairly short order. Young children might need some explanation that the dancing that happens behind a filmy scrim shows scenes from Cinderella's past or her own thoughts.
One of the first things my daughter noticed as we took our seats was the big clock set at 8 o'clock over the stage curtain. "Mom, it's not the right time," she whispered. "It's supposed to be midnight, right?" I got a big elbow to the ribs when, in Act II, the clock moved to the magic hour of midnight. (It's all in the details.)
We saw loads of girls in the audience, little and not-so-little, sporting sparkly tiaras. In case you forget your princess gear at home, the gift shop has plenty of bling on offer, from glass slipper ornaments to elaborate jeweled masks.
The show is nearly three hours long, with two intermissions. If your child has a case of the wiggles or is struggling to stay quiet, you can bring them to the lobby and watch on one of the monitors (see PNB's website for tips on attending ballet with children). You can avoid intermission lines by pre-purchasing snacks (the $5.50 "Cinderella" cupcakes with blue icing and a plastic dancer topper were going fast at our Saturday night show). Each show includes a free pre-performance lecture and a post-performance Q&A with dancers and Artistic Director Peter Boal. Crafts and free dance classes for kids taught by PNB faculty are offered one hour before each matinee performance.
One parking tip: there's usually a big line-up of cars waiting to exit the Mercer Garage across the street from McCaw Hall. We parked in an uncovered lot on 4th Avenue North, between Roy and Valley Streets ($10 for the evening) and it was a snap to exit (bring cash, there's no attendant).
IF YOU GO
Where: McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle.
When: Thursday, Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 28, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 29, 1 and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 30, 1 p.m. Matinees include crafts and dance classes.
Admission: $28 to $173.
Contact: PNB Box Office, 206-441-2424; www.pnb.org/Season/12-13/Cinderella/.
Lynn Schnaiberg is a Seattle-based freelance writer who has written for Outside and other magazines.