Aladdin Casts a Magical Spell

On Countless Cincinnati Families

After Beauty and the Beast inaugurated Cincinnati Ballet’s popular Family Series last season, the series returns March 30 – April 7 with another family-friendly production for kids of all ages with our Family Series: Aladdin.

We spoke with Suzette Boyer Webb, Director of Cincinnati Ballet Second Company (CB2), about what it takes to take to bring this enchanted and beloved classic to life.

  • Suzette, how many cast members are there in this production of Aladdin? 

There are 58 cast members in Aladdin.

  • How long ago did rehearsals begin? 

Staging of the ballet and initial rehearsals began in September and we selected back-ups in mid-February.

  • What is the age range of the folks who are in the production? 

The cast members range in age from 8 to 23.

  • What is the most challenging part of this production for the folks who are dancing it? 

Besides the beautiful and challenging pas de deux and solo variation, the most difficult thing is how each character must work to tell their individual stories physically, through both dance and pantomime. The dancing and acting to portray the monkey, Malik, is both challenging and fun! The role of Scherazade as the narrator also requires a great deal of attention as to how to create a spellbound tale through pantomime.

  • How close to the Disney version of Aladdin is this production?  What is the same and what is different?

Not too close. It is a more traditional telling of the story brought to life through the narrators, led by Scherazade. There are some similar elements like Aladdin and the princess, magic carpets. But in this version Aladdin’s best friend is his monkey Malik and Kalila has a pet tiger. Another notable difference is that Aladdin’s mother plays a very important part in the ballet version.

  • How long is the run time for the performances? 

It runs for an hour and ten minutes.

  • Is this a good introduction to ballet for younger audiences?  And, if so, why? 

Absolutely! The ballet is formulated like a classical ballet so it incorporates all aspects of a full length work such as dance, storytelling, mime, characterization, corps de ballet and beautiful pas de deux. In addition, at only just over one hour it is the perfect time frame for a younger audience.

  • What’s been the most fun for you in terms of making this production happen?

Besides working with the wonderful Ballet West choreographers, Pamela Robinson Harris and Peggy Dolkas, it is so much fun to watch all of the dancers grow in their roles.

Our young animal characters, are finding new ways every day to present their characters. Our upper level, and Academy are working hard on developing their corps de ballet roles and partnering skills. Our CB2 dancers are working on challenging choreography and finding the stage magnitude and presence, to carry principal roles.

I am also very grateful to have former CB dancer Grace Shivers helping out as Rehearsal Coach, along with Sarah Hairston Berkley, Zack Grubbs, Courtney Hellebuyck and Oǧulcan Borova. What a team!!

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