Review- Whipped Cream- American Ballet Theatre- Hong Kong Arts Festival 2018


By Giovanna Spatts



Under Kevin McKenzie’s artistic direction, The American Ballet Theatre takes us on a whimsical adventure where a boy with a sweet spot for whipped cream indulges in gluttony and gets sent to the hospital.
There, his dreams spiral into a world where Tea, Coffee, Praline, Cocoa and Sugar are all royalty.



Mark Ryden’s sets drench us in a fair dose of pop surrealism that is at all times fun to look at and surprisingly not too overwhelming. I couldn’t say the same about the costumes though, with Princess Praline, and the Sugarplums’ standing out for looking a bit crafty.



Alexei Ratmansky’s quirky choreography blends into Strauss’s genius score allowing us to delightfully ‘taste’ each character. At times though, the love triangle dynamic- in which two males claim ownership over a female try to impress her (present in two of the sequences, and involving entirely different sets of characters) can feel a little bit tiring and outdated, especially in these days and age. Princess Tea Flower and Mademoiselle Chartreuse are such strong characters that they don’t need a man to complete them.



In the second act, everything comes together in a sweet & sour mix. The setting changes into a darker, nightmare-oriented one, and we see the villain of the story: a mean Doctor that can’t seem to hold his liquor, and his army of nurses carrying giant syringes. He gets seduced by Brandy, Champagne and Vodka in a bubbly sequence that proves as entertaining for kids as it is fun for those old enough to grasp what’s going on: the adults punishing the boy for indulging in too many sweets can’t help themselves around liquor.



Somehow I felt it was unnecessary for Brandy and Vodka to fight for Miss Champagne’s ‘ownership’ over the entire number; it was initially such a witty and fun commentary if you leave the love triangle out.



In the end, the bottles manage to get not only the Doctor but all his nurses drunkenly dancing away from the boy as he escapes back to his Candyland dreams. There, he dances alongside Princess Praline and gets to eat all the whipped cream he wants before being crowned king of sweetness.



Prince Cocoa (Calvin Royal III), Mademoiselle Chartreuse (Catherine Hurlin) and Princess Tea Flower (Stella Abrera) all deliver standout performances in their endearing roles, but the real star of the show is Jeffrey Cirio whose exceptional execution in the part of the little boy charms the audience exponentially with every childish smile, skip and turn. A few minutes into the second act it becomes impossible to take your eyes off him for good, which considering the visual complexity of this ballet would not seem plausible.

If all this fails to amuse you, you should know that there’s a group of kids wearing bouncy merengue costumes that are bound to melt your heart.



Whipped Cream is adorably irresistible for all ages alike, delivering clever metaphors hand in hand with surreal visual ecstasy.


This production has now closed

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