Whipped Cream Review

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Whipped Cream
Starring: Daniil Simkin (The Boy), Sarah Lane (Princess Praline), Stella Abrera (Princess Tea Flower), Thomas Forster (Prince Coffee), Joseph Gorak (Prince Cocoa), Blaine Hoven (Don Zucchero), Alexi Agoudine (Chef & Doctor), Catherine Hurlin (Mademoiselle Marianne Chartreuse), Duncan Lyle (Ladislav Slivovitz), Roman Zhurbin (Boris Wutki),
Choreography: Alexei Ratmansky
Libretto and Score: Richard Strauss
Sets and Costumes: Mark Ryden
Lighting Design: Brad Fields
Conductor: David LaMarche

On July 2, 2018, I attended my first ballet performance by the American Ballet Theater company at Lincoln Center in New York City. It was a last minute on the whim plan to go out after work and enjoy myself. You would think that there would be plenty of performances to check out especially in during the summer months, but not all of them were able to fit my budget like this show did.
The show was Whipped Cream, a story about a boy’s love for sweets, the consequences for loving them too much, and the craziness that ensues to keep on loving those sweet treats. It’s an all ages ballet so kids can enjoy it as well as adults; obviously it would be most enjoyable if said child could actually sit and watch the show quietly to allow the people around them to enjoy the show in peace. Unfortunately for me I had the one kid in a lake of kids that couldn’t do it, but I was still able to enjoy the show regardless. The show only ran the first week of July which was kind of lucky for me. I decided to catch the first show of the week; Disappointed that it only lasted that long as it was definitely a great summer time ballet to catch.

Our story begins with “kids” getting out of church and are celebrating but playing around and of course it wouldn’t be a ballet without our performers jumping as high as possible showing us, the audience, their incredible ability. To celebrate the kids getting their first communion, which I guess is implied based on everyone dressed in white, but it isn’t necessarily known to us why they are dressed up, just that they got out of church and now they are on their way to the candy store as a reward. This opening scene where we see the priest and the carriage driver with the oversized big heads, which I’ve usually seen in operas, come onto to stage and it is just hilarious to see them move around. 

Seeing that automatically had my full attention. The set for this scene was quaint I guess is the word I would use; Just half of the exterior of the church, a painted background, and the carriage. But once we move past that scene is where we get an amazing interior of the candy shop the kids are going to. The shop brilliantly colorful pastel colors looking like something from the golden oldies. It is here we are met with another big headed character, the baker. Once our kids arrive they are greeted by the chef; the dance choreography for this scene was just fun and really gave us an idea of the tone of the entire show.  

As the kids are enjoying their sweet treats one kid in particular, our male lead, decides he needs more than what’s offered. After being chased around the bakery by the chef, our star is able to fully indulge in the “whipped cream” to the point he needs to be hospitalized. While the main protagonist having to be rushed to the hospital might be the downer of the whole story, something magical happens once everyone leaves. Marzipan archers, spear-wielding Sugarplums, & sword swinging Gingerbread begin to engage in part military exercises that would make you think that these were real military personnel instead of confections being brought to life. And of course things change course and they begin to battle each other. A fight breaks out among the 3 groups; the dancing in this scene is more intense and fast paced. From start to finish the choreography in this ballet is just well done. It conveys the story so well especially since there is no dialogue in this; so everything is dependent on the dancer’s movements and if you are close enough their facial expressions as well. 

When we’re introduced to Princess Tea Flower and Prince Coffee their dance was one of love and admiration. Even though the coffee beans outnumbered the tea leaves, they made it work with no issues. Even though Prince Cocoa and Don Zucchero try to steal Princess Tea Flower from her love Prince Coffee, the whole sequence is reminiscent of old school 3 Stooges comedy with better choreography.

Princess Tea Flower

In act 2, we see what has happened to our young boy. Suffering from intense stomach pains we see that he has been hospitalized. Our Doctor comes out with his gang of nurses, and after diagnosing our young patient they reveal the biggest syringes you have ever seen and proceed to inject him with medicine. Once the boy is asleep and the Doctor makes his way out with nurses in tow, the real fun begins. A parade of candies begins to form and encircles the hospital room and each candy costume is incredible & unique. They even had child dancers on stage and they were the cutest things ever! It is here we are introduced to Princess Praline who invites our young lad to dance with her. And as they each take turns dancing, they start to dance with each other and you can see the romance begin to bloom. The moment is colorful and just fun. What we thought was a fever dream brought on by the medicine turns out to be a reality. 

The Doctor and his army of nurses go back to check on our young lad and find him missing. They turn his room inside out, but this only causes the Doctor to have a headache and drink. They find the boy and try to drag him back to bed, but luckily 3 bottles of alcohol caught in a love triangle just happen to be around ready to get the Doctor and his nurses drunk and rescue our hero. Catherine Hurlin (Mademoiselle Marianne Chartreuse), Duncan Lyle (Ladislav Slivovitz), & Roman Zhurbin (Boris Wutki) just happen to be the Doctor’s drinks of choice. When we are introduced to them we see that Mademoiselle Marianne Chartreuse definitely loves Ladislav Slivovitz and vice versa, but Boris Wutki is that third wheel that doesn’t quite get that hint, but definitely would love it if Slivovitz would get his hint as well. It is definitely the funniest scenes in the show and will have you wanting more.

In the end our boy hero and Princess Praline along with Princess Tea Flower & Prince Coffee celebrate in the kingdom of candy and what a celebration it is. The set design I guess you could say it is reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz, in that it looks and feels magical. Of course all the characters, with the exception of the other kids, are there to celebrate the coronation of the boy who is now a Prince and is living happily ever after. I guess this was a lesson in loving something too much can lead to pain or a balanced diet is best. At the same time love will find a way. Regardless of the message the story was an enjoyable ride that will leave the audience with huge smiles on their faces. Don’t know when the show will come back, but when it does, it is definitely worth the price of admission. And if you have kids this is a show worth taking them too as well. Provided they can handle being seated and quiet for long periods of time.

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