"CINDERELLA," Ballet West, Thursday, Capitol Theatre; additional performances through Feb. 23 (355-2787)

Ballet West brought Ben Stevenson's "Cinderella" back to the Capitol Theatre Thursday night. And the nearly sold-out audience watched in pin-drop silence as Cinderella and Prince Charming danced a moving pas de deux to the rich Prokofiev score, performed by the Utah Chamber Orchestra.

It was a Valentine's Day evening to remember.

The company was ready to take on the opening-night butterflies as it brought the beloved fairy tale to the stage.

Katherine Lawrence portrayed the title character with graceful youth while Michael Bearden's Prince was regal and stricken with love.

Their chemistry was enough to bring tears to some audience members' eyes, and the steps Stevenson created for the second act pas de deux was classically inspired but contained a dash of contemporary flair.

Still, with the lush costumes and gothic-toned scenery, courtesy of the Houston Ballet, the overall production was a romantic's dream come true.

As always, the Ugly Stepsisters stole the show.

Thursday night, the two awkward characters were danced by Jason Linsley and Christopher Ruud. Their sibling rivalry and clumsy dancing triggered side-splitting laughter from the audience. But at the same time, these wretched characters were charming and garnered the loudest applause.

Peggy Dolkas radiated magic as the Fairy Godmother and, as the complete opposite, Jennifer Robinson emoted dark and abusive conniving as the Stepmother.

Rounding out the dysfunctional family was Nicholas Scott as Cinderella's brow-beaten father.

While the main characters were the focal points of the production, the supporting cast highlighted the scenes with color and technique.

Christopher Sellars' savvy and acrobatic jester livened up the ball and the Ballet West corps added a stoic elegance as they waltzed out patterns throughout the second act.

Although the third act is basically added as a technicality to give the audience the "Happily Ever After" ending, there is another demanding and tender pas de deux with Cinderella and her prince that brought more appreciative applause from the audience.

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