TIO NYC: “Sinderella” at Minetta Lane Theatre

TIO NYC: “Sinderella” at Minetta Lane Theatre

Company XIV’s “Cinderella,”conceived, choreographed, and directed to bawdy perfection by company founder Austin McCormick, at the New York’s Minetta Lane Theatre runs through November 15. Tickets here now.

Stepmommy, Davon Rainey

Stepmommy, Davon Rainey

The original “Cinderella” (1607) is a rags- (the girl) to-riches (boy) of girl-meets-boy. The unlikely pair meet at a ball, have a ball dancing, and live happily-after-ever.

Enter the 1950s with its gender issues of inequality and the quaint belief (not dead yet) that marriage is the ultimate life goal (and salvation) of the fairer sex and its sequel: a woman’s place is in the home. Or palace.

“Cinderella” also made a strong argument for foot binding. (And in fact, once upon a time there was a Chinese variation on the theme entitled “Yeh-Shen.”)

The version we know today is largely the offspring of a simpering, whimpering 1950s Disney animation featuring friendly mice, a pumpkin that turns into a splendiferous chariot, and a fairy godmother who doesn’t seem to mind the fact her only charge heads off to a fancy ball solo.

Bottom line: Once Hollywood got its grubby mitts on the story, there was no turning back.

One academic tracked down well over 300 versions of Cinderella. Some say the number is closer to 500. Anyway, lots.

Austin McCormick’s postmodern adaptation of the tale – more A.N. Roquelaure than Perrault or Grimm –boils down to the notion that life sucks. Deal with it.

Getting there is good, dirty fun.

Cindy and her Prince

Cindy and her Prince

The version we saw the other other night is yes, a fairy tale – with the emphasis in this production on “fairy” (as in oh-so-gay) and “tale” (as in tail). It is definitely a bedtime story – but not about going to sleep.

The evil stepmother is beautiful and black, a badass – and a man. He is played by long, lithe, luscious Davon Rainey, a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy and Juilliard. Rainey steals the limelight whenever he shows up to do his derring-do.

Cindy, Allison Ulrich, is also a Juilliard alum. Her resume includes a stint with Cirque du Soleil in “Viva Elvis,” where she was dance captain, a featured dancer, and aerialist.

One prominent example of the Olympic-level gymnastics displayed throughout the production is the aerial pas de deaux with Cindy and her Prince (yummy Steven Trumon Gray), their union consummated on and within a large suspended ring. Athletic, graceful, beautiful.

Getting the picture?

Company XIV happily-never-after treatment of “Cinderella” creatively combines opera, circus, Baroque dance, vaudeville, cabaret styling – and in-your-face sexuality.

“It is as if the court of Louis XIV is transplanted to a nightclub…kinky… triumphant,” The New York Times.

Company XIV’s “Cinderella (or Sinderella) balls-out (generally covered in sequined penis pouches) happening is brainy, sensual (minimal sets with just chandeliers to suggest opulence and fabbie, also very minimal costumes á la Gaultier), risky, risqué, and way, way over-the-top. The very tight ensemble boasts serious acting, circus, singing and dancing chops.

Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Peek-a-Boo (thanks you New York Times) about gets it.

Below is a full review from the New York Times critic Anita Gates:

Before you judge Austin McCormick’s naughty, bawdy “Cinderella” — with its stage full of toned bare buttocks, its libidinous fairy godmother and even, heaven help us, crotch-grabbing — reconsider the fairy tale: Surely, if Cinderella and the Prince lived happily ever after, that did on occasion involve physical intimacy.

Company XIV, which has proudly made lasciviousness its signature style, and AMDM Productions describe this show at the Minetta Lane Theater as “a baroque burlesque ballet.” Scenes and character entrances are announced silently via chalkboard title cards, held saucily aloft by very sparkly, very scantily clad showgirls and showboys.

Mr. McCormick, who also directed and choreographed, has stuck to the original plotline, although the put-upon Cinderella (Allison Ulrich) seems to spend more time getting her wicked stepmother drinks and lighting her cigarettes than she does tending any hearth. Stepmother is played by Davon Rainey, magnificent in his first scenes in skin-exposing black lingerie. (Zane Pihlstrom’s inventive costumes go a big way toward setting the dreamy tone.)

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