News for a new musical that was premiering at the Kennedy Center came out while I was still riding a francophile high after our trip to France (more here, here, here…) It was like an unseen French-inspired force guided me to open the enewsletter, and before I could blink I was the lucky owner of two tickets to the world premiere of Little Dancer.
Plus, after missing If/Then when it premiered in DC last year and went straight onto Broadway, I was determined not to miss the next big opportunity to see something new and exciting.
Flash forward two months to the end of summer, a big move, visitors to the new house, a busy few weeks at work, and then came the calendar reminder: Date Night at the Kennedy Center! Since life had been so busy, and the venue is a special place for us (remember our engagement story?) I didn’t overthink it. Dress, heels, makeup and we were walking through the grand entrance.
It wasn’t until Will Call that I actually remembered I had bought tickets, not just for a new musical, but for the world premiere night of a new musical. A special night indeed!
With a new musical, I was a bit unsure of what to expect. Luckily the book flowed beautifully, and the characters naturally lifted scripting into song. I will say, I was a little disappointed that a show-stopping title song wasn’t evident. The male lead (clearly chosen for his amazing voice) had a good romantic solo but it wasn’t the chart-topper that I was wanting to hear.
You don’t go to this musical for the voices though – you go for the dance. And by casting Tiler Peck, a Principal Dancer for the New York City Ballet, as the lead Little Dancer you’re going to get some impressive ballet. I couldn’t believe how demanding the lead role was of Little Dancer. Onstage for nearly every scene, some lovely (if not show-stopping) singing, and then dancing, dancing, dancing, more dancing. Girl’s got stamina.
So you’ve got a decent book, top-notch dancing from not only the lead but the entire corps, (which was clearly sourced from ballet companies), and then the staging. Did you see, above, the way the stage itself was framed – like a painting? So clever! The show opened and closed with that staging I photographed above, but in-between the sets were impressive and inventive. One scene in particular comes to mind where four top-hatted men holding full length mirror set pieces dance with young Marie through the mazes of the basement of the Paris Opera House.
Obviously words don’t do justice here. Throughout the show I had glimpses of familiarity – as if I was seeing the Phantom of the Opera’s world from another perspective. Certain moments also drew parallels to the destitution seen in Les Miserables. But Little Dancer is also unique as a musical in its clear focus on ballet as art.
If you’re a former ballerina, like me, I daresay you won’t be disappointed. If you’ve always had a fascination with Degas’ Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, like me, then you won’t be disappointed. Give yourself an early holiday gift and see Little Dancer before she closes on November 30th.
No doubt she’ll be dancing across more stages in the future, but then you can say you saw the premiere engagement at the Kennedy Center. And be sure to let me know what you think!