Among other accomplishments in "La Fille mal Gardee," choreographer Frederick Ashton humanized the stereotypes of domestic ballet farce--but you'd never have known it from several major character performances by the second cast of the new Joffrey Ballet production of "Fille," Saturday afternoon in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
Admittedly, Stanley Holden's mellow and detailed Widow Simone is a hard act to follow. However, even by recent, post-Holden Royal Ballet standards--or the San Francisco Ballet performances of "Fille" here in 1979--John Wilson's interpretation at the matinee was jokey and simplistic.
A veteran of an earlier, non-Ashton "Fille" staged by the Joffrey, Wilson met the clog-dance challenges gamely enough, but reduced the character's feelings for her daughter to crude, predictable drag charades.
As Thomas, the vineyard owner attempting to marry off his son, Jerel Hilding also settled for broad, energetic mannerisms (chiefly a low-to-the-ground waddle) executed without much distinction.
In the role of the simpleton Alain, Patrick Corbin forsook the anarchic, Harpo Marxish conception of his predecessor and instead made the character more self-absorbed and fanciful--a sweet, overgrown baby who threw himself into his dopey mock-classical solos with enormous verve and fine technical control.
Carole Valleskey is not really a lyrical dancer, but as Lise she met the challenges of the harvest and wedding duets neatly and danced the tambourine solo with unexpected lightness and delicacy--besides bringing her usual hoydenish charm to all her mime scenes and allegro passage work.
As her sunny, adoring Colas, Glenn Edgerton hadn't yet mastered every lift or surmounted every hazard in his bottle solo, but clearly this was a performance of exceptional ease, elegance and wit.
Edgerton's first solo, in particular--with lusty folk steps terminating in highfalutin cavalier poses--caught perfectly Ashton's playful juggling of idioms, the sense of a sly confidence shared by dancer and audience.
Jonathan McPhee conducted the patchwork score with maximum vivacity.