There's always a danger in revisiting a favorite show. Without the thrill of newness, can it live up to expectations? Will the reality match rose-colored memories?
With Orlando Ballet's revival of "Vampire's Ball," the happy answer is yes — the familiar thrills are there. Larry Rayburn's stylish sets, Helena Kuukka's eerie lighting and Eddy Frank Fernandez's decadent costumes are ingredients in this frothy concoction of
Daniel Benavides and Katia Garza are back as the Vampire and Vampiress, whose feud is at the center of the storyline. The two bring sexual chemistry to the pairing: He flourishes his cape as he gazes at her with smug aloofness, she's a whirling dervish of flashing eyes, bared teeth and flowing hair.
New to a principal role is Melissa Gelfin, who plays one half of the innocent couple who, gosh darn it, get tangled up with the vamps. Gelfin has a pleasingly youthful, playful quality to her movements. It helps that her innocent counterpart, veteran David Kiyak, is looser in the role this year. The two have the loveliest moments in the show during a duet to
Choreographer Robert Hill, the ballet's artistic director, provides a clever mix of styles throughout the production. Some of the most striking moments remain the group dances. Augmented by apprentice dancers and the students of Orlando Ballet II, the corps grandly fills the Bob Carr stage.
Hill's little touches add life (if you'll pardon the expression) to the proceedings. In the midst of classical moves, for example, there's a quick step of limp-wristed, extended-arm zombie motion. Or, among the seemingly effortless lifts during the Adele number, he has Gelfin tenderly lay her head on Kiyak's shoulder.
Douglas Horne, sporting mad scien-terrific hair, has two high-energy, technically superior duets. One's with his "creature," danced by Sebastian Serra, who proficiently characterizes a monster while adhering to the choreography. The other comes later with a blazing turn by Arcadian Broad, who also shows off his piano-playing skills to great effect.
The biggest drawback on second viewing is realizing how the plot completely falls apart. Hill went to a lot of trouble to craft an actual storyline and give his dancers fun and interesting characterizations. But then, he fails to supply any kind of logical — or worse, emotionally meaningful — resolution.
Still, the delightfully frantic whimsy of the closing piece, "The Celebration," will likely put thoughts of logic right out of your mind. No, it doesn't all make sense. But it's terrifically entertaining.
• What: An Orlando Ballet production conceived and choreographed by Robert Hill
• Length: 2 hours, including intermission
• When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20; 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21
• Note: Some roles are performed by alternate dancers at the Saturday-evening performance.
• Tickets: $20-$90
• Call: 407-426-1739