The flower girls sitting on the bench? No.
How about the lady with the picnic basket? Not even close.
It must be the painter. He looks shady, like the kind of guy who would swipe a necklace and bracelet.
The policeman thinks so, too, so he’s on the chase in the Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre’s Youth Ballet’s summer tour production, “High Jinx in Paris.”
Spoiler alert: There’s some literal monkey business going on in these streets.
“The audience is in on the joke,” says Susan Perlis, the ballet’s writer and director. “They see the monkey come out with the necklace and hide it. But it’s still a mystery to the characters on stage.”
Which is where the fun begins in this ballet Perlis created to the music of Jacques Offenbach’s ballet, “Gaite Parisienne.” The tour opens at 10 a.m. Monday, June 1, at Delmont Gardens Branch Library and will continue through Thursday, June 11, with morning and afternoon performances at libraries and community centers.
The performances are free, but the troupe also will present a fundraiser show at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 6, at the Dancer’s Workshop, 10745 Linkwood Court. Admission is $10 for adults and teens age 15 and older and $5 for children, with proceeds offsetting the cost of the tour.
“This is the third time we’ve done this ballet,” Perlis says. “The last time we did it was in 2007. We were going to do ‘Swan Lake’ this year, but we had a vote, and the kids voted to do this ballet.”
“We like this ballet, because we each have our own character,” says dancer Christina Riazuelo. “There are some ballets where dancers have to double up on one character.”
Riazuelo, who attends St. Jude the Apostle School, gathers after Saturday morning rehearsal with fellow troupe members Khristian Ford, 16, a student at Baton Rouge Magnet High School; Mary Grace Beck, 14, Episcopal High School; Caroline Petty, a 13-year-old home-school student; Leah Cox, 12, Parkview Baptist School; and Morgan Gallegos, 12, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic School.
Most are ballet tour veterans and know what to expect from the children who will gather around at some libraries.
“One girl liked it so much that she was crying,” Beck says. “Most of the children come up and want to talk to you,” but once in awhile, there is a dissenter. “There was one girl who came up to me at the end of a performance and told me that she didn’t like anything about it,” Petty says. “She said she hated it. It surprised me. Everyone is different.”
Such reactions are rare, and the point of the tour is to bring ballet to the community.
“High Jinx in Paris” is a fun story filled with intrigue, humor and even a little bit of slapstick.
The story focuses on an investigation that begins when a proper Parisian lady realizes her necklace is missing. Another discovers her bracelet has disappeared, and both report their missing baubles to a city police officer, played by Ford.
Little do they know that the organ grinder’s monkey started this mischief. What follows is a chaotic shuffling of blame that escalates into a ballet-style street brawl, which leaves some characters hiding out among the can-can girls.
“The kids in this company are between 10 and 14,” co-director Rebecca Acosta says. “They’re chosen each spring through auditions.”
Along with Ford, the show features three other male dancers, all members of Baton Rouge Magnet High School’s dance program. They’ve joined forces with the company for the summer tour.