Review: LA BELLE/SLEEPING BEAUTY by Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo at the Auditorium Theatre

Review: LA BELLE/SLEEPING BEAUTY by Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo at the Auditorium Theatre

Pictured: Katrin Schrader and Alexis Oliveira. Photo by Alice Blangero.

By Elizabeth Ellis

It’s not a Disney kind of Sleeping Beauty: no Maleficent with her apple and no Flora, Fauna, and Meriwether. But choreographer Jean-Christophe Maillot and the Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo’s production of LA BELLE/ SLEEPING BEAUTY takes the 19th-century ballet by Marius Petipa and with stunning visuals, a soaring score, and exemplary choreography, brings it well into the 21st century.

We find ourselves in the midst of a futuristic forest, the world of the Prince (Alexis Oliveira), whose stepmother (Stephan Bourgond, who also portrays the dark fairy Carabosse) controls his life. The Prince escapes her pressure to The World of Beauty, a fantasy land he views through a crystal ball. The Prince watches the fancy freedom of the residents, The Petulants, and envies the difference between them and his own dark and foreboding world. The Lilac Fairy (Mimoza Koike) helps the Prince bring the Princess, Beauty (Katrin Schrader) to his world where they eventually marry. After the Prince’s father dies, the Prince takes the throne, but while he is away, his insanely jealous mother tries to kill Beauty and their children, but ultimately ends up engineering her own undoing.

Scenic designer Ernest Pignon-Ernest utilizes gorgeous projections both at the beginning and at the end of the piece; of dancers in filmed sequences, as well as rushing water, and a forest, offering a depth of experience beyond the bounds of traditional ballet. The use of circles, globes, and bubbles are evident throughout the show, in round bellies on the women Petulants, globe lamps (similar to some found at IKEA) in the filmed pieces, as well as the show-stopping transparent beach ball that Beauty moves in as she enters the World of Beauty. Dominique Drillot illuminates the stage with gorgeous slices of clean neutrals with some occasional splashes of blue. Jerome Kaplan takes inspiration from sci-fi fantasy warriors of film and literature to clothe the dancers in armor and angular metallics, which adds to the futuristic feel of the dance.

While this LA BELLE/SLEEPING BEAUTY — with it’s dark tones and sharp edges — will not necessarily appeal to the fans of Disney princesses, it beautifully melds old familiar tales with a strong emphasis on the look and feel of the future. Hopefully, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo will return to the Auditorium with another gorgeous program sooner rather than later.

About author

Elizabeth Ellis

Elizabeth is an actor, playwright, musician, and a graduate of De Paul University. She studied theatre and improvisation at the Second City Training Center, the Actors’ Center, and at the Royal National Theatre Studio in London. Elizabeth has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Tympanic Theatre, Congo Square Theatre, Second City's Children's Theatre, Stage Left Theatre, Bailiwick Arts Center, and London's Canal Cafe Theatre. Six of her plays have been chosen as part of the Abbie Hoffman and the Around the Coyote festivals.