When the ballet “The Most Incredible Thing” first debuted in London in 2011, it dazzled audiences, impressed critics and snagged the prestigious Evening Standard Theatre Award. Now, it is making its American debut — not in New York City or Los Angeles, but right here in the Queen City.
Charlotte Ballet will present the work, based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale of the same name, with a run from March 9-18 at Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St.
Adapted by Matthew Dunster, with choreography by Javier de Frutos, whose previous work includes everything from the West End revival of “Cabaret” to the bloody wedding scene in “Game of Thrones,” the show looks to be a must-see spectacle for all ages.
“The production value is above and beyond anything Charlotte Ballet has ever done before,” Josh Hall told qnotes during a break from rehearsals.
Hall, 23, and in his sixth season with Charlotte Ballet, plays Leo, an awkward inventor who is, along with a number of other men, trying to win the heart of The Princess by creating “the most incredible thing.”
Leo’s invention is a clock that serves as a useful storytelling device to drive much of the plot, and symbolizes both creation and destruction as competing revolutionary acts.
It is hard to imagine Hall as awkward. The talented and attractive young dancer comes off as anything but that while he explains his journey — one that began at a young age.
As he tells it, he knew right away that he wanted to be a dancer and was always convinced he would find a way to make his dream a reality, much like Leo’s tireless striving for The Princess.
“I started dancing when I was four, and instantly I was like, ‘This is it, I got this. I’m going to do this for the rest of my life,’” he said.
His singular focus was taken more seriously by others when it was first justified by an adult in a position to know of what she spoke — his dance teacher in Charlotte, where he was raised.
“When I was nine, my ballet teacher told my mom, ‘You should really think about doing this,’” he said — meaning listen to her young son’s dreams more closely, because he had real potential.
“I was like, ‘See, I was right,’” he recounted.
Hall said his family was always supportive, but as he is the fourth of 10 kids, he knew that if he didn’t make it as a dancer, he had no get-bailed-out-by-the-parents fallback option.
It is that coming-of-age lack of self-assurances he said he is drawing upon to help him more fully become the character.
“I think of going back to my teenage years, and coming to acceptance of myself. I try to think of those things and how I kind of battled through that — and still am in some ways — and putting that into Leo,” he said. “Because Leo has all those conflicts, and then finds himself in The Princess [with both having the ability of] thinking of the box.”
It is the kind of creative thinking it took to keep him successfully following his own dream to become a dancer at this level.
When his education came to an end, and it was the moment of truth to move into the world of professional dance or find another option, of which he felt he had none at that point, he admits, some of the confidence of his childhood days began to grow shaky.
“I was in this gray area, where I wasn’t secure to take the next step, and I had doubt,” he said. “I was like, ‘If I can’t take this next step, then I’m not sure I can pursue this anymore, because this is kind of like the end of the road.’”
Then, he got a call to audition for Charlotte Ballet, and everything came together. He admitted he didn’t see it coming.
“I never really thought about living here,” he said. “I wanted to get to New York, or London, because that’s what everyone does.”
“But coming back and actually seeing what Charlotte is and what Charlotte’s becoming, every year, I fall in love with it more I feel like,” he continued. “It’s nice to be in a place that feels like it’s growing and you can be a part of it.”
Charlotte is also where he met his boyfriend, Peter Mazurowski, who also dances for Charlotte Ballet, although not in this production. Mazurowski is in his second season with the company.
Mazurowski was raised in New Hampshire, and found his way to Broadway young, playing the title role of Billy in “Billy Elliot: the Musical.” He took the role at 13 and stayed on until the show closed in 2012.
Hall lit up when he spoke of Mazurowski, and noted that Mazurowski was too humble to brag, so he does it for him.
His relationship is clearly another reason Charlotte still feels like home for Hall.
“I think coming home made me realize that what we have in Charlotte is amazing, and the company that we have and the work that we do — I don’t have to go anywhere, I can stay here and be happy and not have to be away from my family to live my dream,” Hall said, smiling. “Which I think is amazing to say for the city of Charlotte.”
Hall feels empowered by the work he and the Charlotte Ballet are doing and thinks this show will leave many feeling the same way, especially young women.
The Princess, who is being controlled by her father’s will at the start of the story, has to go through her own journey of self-discovery and inner strength, to chart her own course forward.
“It sends a nice message out,” he said, noting that it was also timely. “She chooses her path, she’s in charge of it and she’s going to do what she wants to do.”
“The Most Incredible Thing” runs from March 9-18 at Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St. Times vary. Tickets start at $25.
More information and tickets are available online at blumenthalarts.org.