“Hunchback” Delivers Praiseworthy Performance
IN A PRODUCTION that would have made its namesake very proud, The Robert Ivey Ballet performed an impressive The Hunchback of Notre Dame that used students, friends, and professionals in the full- length story ballet choreographed by Olga Wise who, along with Michael Wise, is the artistic director of the company.
Performed in two acts, the music, costume, and caliber of dancing gave way to a cohesive and substantial evening of ballet by a regional company whose primary lifeline is a school that produces about five performances a year.
The principal dancers on Saturday night at a medium-sized audience in the Sottile Theatre were Katie Badgett as Esmeralda, Michael Rodriguez as Quasimodo, Michael Wise as the Archbishop, and Jackie Moore as Fleur-de-Lys, a noble lady of the court. They, along with a stage full of merchants, entertainers, gypsies, and Parisian children, were adeptly staged by Ms. Wise as layers of acting, pantomime, and dancing kept the audience’s attention through humor and intrigue.
This is not to say that some moments were stronger than others—especially when the hunchback enters, delicately played by Rodriguez with his bent physique that illicits pity and fear, but also incorporated skilled footwork, partnering, and jumping as the show unfolded. His acting was right on—not overly dramatic or grotesque, but quite believable in his interpretation.
Katie Badgett played the great gypsy beauty and displayed the choreography with vibrant ease and technical ability. The delivery at times was halted, but her extensions, balance, and turning stood out as her strengths. Her most believable scene with pure naiveté was before she is to be hanged and then is rescued by Quasimodo. The doubt that evolves into tenderness is a poignant portrayal of an unusual friendship.
Even in the dramatic final scene, when she falls prey to the diabolical Archdeacon, Badgett powered through—almost reaching the necessary theatrical interpretation. Michael Wise is a convincing two-faced character who caused much of the conflict in the most pious manner. His acting stood out through the production.
Jackie Moore danced the haughty and betrayed Fleur-de-Lys with aplomb, and her anger was palpable when her fiancé flounders in his affection. Moore’s point work and expressive upper body demonstrated welcome strength and command of her role. She danced the role of Esmeralda on the alternate performance night.
In a Fall season devoid of dance offerings, it is a travesty that two local companies performed on the same weekend (Charleston Ballet performed Dracula). Each would have benefited from not having to compete for ticketholders.
There is much talent here and the Charleston community needs to take notice and support our local troupes.