Ballet Theatre of Indiana to present ‘Beauty and the Beast’ this weekend


By Mark Ambrogi

For Stirling Matheson, timing is everything.

Haley Cipot, who is performing in another role in BTI’s “Beauty and the Beast,” dressed as Belle. (Submitted photo by Mark Abarca)

So the Ballet Theatre of Indiana artistic director is certainly pleased he chose to present “Beauty and the Beast” not long after the movie was released.

The BTI will hold performances at 7:30 p.m. March 31 and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. April 1 at the Basile Theatre at the Athenaeum, 401 E. Michigan St., Indianapolis.

“There’s been a huge response to this,” Matheson said. “The story is in everyone’s minds because of Disney’s marketing. I’ll take it.”

The score for the ballet was commissioned by the Birmingham Royal Ballet and written by Canadian composer Glenn Buhr in 2006. It has been little used since then.

“We started looking at fairy tales and literature that hasn’t been turned into a staple of ballet,” Matheson said.

So he wondered if anyone had written a score for “Beauty and the Beast” and discovered Buhr’s version last summer.

“I’m choreographing a whole new version,” Matheson said. “We’re just using Glenn’s score. We’re bringing in a guest artist (Samuel Huberty) from Ft. Wayne to bolster our numbers. It’s easily our largest and most complicated production that we’ve done.”

Matheson said full-length ballets are always the most complicated.

“There are a lot of costumes and the biggest set pieces we use,” Matheson said. “For “Beauty and the Beast’ in particular, there’s the added complication of masks, handmade foam latex prosthetics and the music. This is BTI’s first show with live music, and in addition to simply finding a qualified musician to perform the very complicated score we also had to figure out a solution for rehearsal, since there isn’t a recording of it. We ended up using a program that could read the PDFs from the composer and play a grating, mechanical rendition for choreography and rehearsal before we had recordings from the musician we’ve hired for the show.”

Matheson will play the beast. Casie Nicole is performing as Belle.

“This is absolutely a ballet that we’ll be adding to our repertoire, especially now that the hard work of creating it has been done,” Matheson said.

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