The Joffrey, currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, is the first American company to receive the rights to the Ashton classic. Live orchestral accompaniment of the Prokofiev score will be provided by the Chicago Sinfonietta (the orchestra of the Joffrey) led by principal conductor Leslie B. Dunner.
Gerald Arpino, Joffrey Ballet co-founder and artistic director, said, "Having the Joffrey Ballet present this production of Cinderella was a longtime dream of Robert Joffrey's, and so we pay tribute to him this season — the second year of our two-year 50th anniversary celebration."
Former Joffrey stars Gary Chryst (who danced with the company from 1968 to 1979) and Christian Holder (who danced with the company from 1966 to 1979) return to the Joffrey to portray the comedic ugly stepsisters. Ashton created the characters to be danced by men in drag in the style of classic English pantomime and originated one of the roles himself in the production's premiere. "Robert Joffrey originally envisioned Gary and Christian for these roles and we are delighted to have them return and help bring his dream to fruition," said Arpino.
This $1 million Cinderella — the first brand new, full-length story ballet the Joffrey has staged since its version of The Nutcracker premiered in 1987 — has the largest cast, budget, sets and costumes in the Joffrey's history.
The Ashton production premiered at London's Sadler's Wells Ballet (now The Royal Ballet) in December 1948. Aston originally staged the role of Cinderella for famed ballerina Margot Fonteyn, but as she was injured, the role went to Moira Shearer.
Other Ashton masterpieces include Sylvia (1952), Ondine (1958) and The Dream (1964).