Cinderella at L.A. Opera & Ben Vereen Honored by PDS

The Los Angeles Opera’s production of Cinderella by Rossini may have lacked the famed glass slipper, the enchanting fairy godmother, and not a pumpkin in sight -- but it still conveyed the spirit of romance and fairytale magic The gorgeously grotesque, but lovable giant rats, (whose acrobatic antics are amazing) appear as “groupies” and surround the modest heroine.  These robust rodents were an integral addition to this comedic opera -- which will appeal to children of all ages.

At the opening night performance, spotted many mini-Cinderella princesses in the audience, decked out in their satin chemises, and it was reassuring to me that young people are getting their first taste of Grand Opera.  And Grand it was to hear the mellow tones of Kate Lindsey as the charming Cinderella; and a delight to see and enjoy the performances of the two stepsisters Stacy Tappan and Ronnita Nicole Miller, who won us over at first sight in their orange and bright yellow wigs.

Joni Berry, Dick Van Dyke & Mitzi Gaynor at PDS Luncheon, photo by Nathan Sternfeld

Conductor James Conlon was outstanding as usual, and Scenery and Costume Designer Joan Gullen, who created this unique production, provided just the right amount of whimsy and humor to enchant us all.  You can still catch Cinderella until April 13th, and be sure to take a young, budding opera-holic with you!

We were honored to attend the 26th Annual Professional Dancers Society Luncheon where incredibly talented singer, dancer and legend of stage and screen Ben Vereen received the Gypsy Award.  This organization’s mission is to assist dancers in need- and   they have joined forces with the Actors Fund to provide financial help to hardworking performers everywhere.

Ben Vereen received Gypsy Award from PDS, photo by Nathan Sternfeld

Vereen, who celebrated over 40 years in the business, starring in such vehicles as Pippin, Fosse, and Roots, received his award from another legend, Debbie Reynolds, who is excited about her new tome, Unsinkable.  This saucy lady has lots of titillating tales to tell -- and Unsinkable is the perfect title for her life story.

Mitzi Gaynor, President of PDS introduced the show by stating, “Ben changed dancing in theatre, films, television and in life -- he made it FUN -- to kill yourself, and love it.”

Cinderella ( Kate Lindsey) and her robust rodents on stage

And love the show we did - particularly the video/film clips featuring Busby Berkley and all the legends of dance strutting their stuff.  A great tribute to one of the greatest performers of our time -- Ben Vereen

Also honored was Michael Rooney (Mickey Rooney’s son) who has been called “one of our most innovative and influential choreographers.”  His work with such stars as Bjork and Taylor Swift, and staging of The Muppets, starring Amy Adams and Jason Segel have been lauded by critics and viewers alike.  . 

Kudos to humanitarian Joni Berry, who underwrote the event, and a sad farewell to PR great Dale Olson, who gave so much of his life and love to this most worthy foundation.  

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