Reviewed by Christine Charlesworth
Last night I was invited to see Northern Ballet perform their spectacular performance of Cinderella. A story we all know so well, but this version is very different. We had no pantomime dames, no ugly sisters but instead electrifying spite, bitter jealousy, heart-breaking sorrow, heart-warming fun and finally, of course, overwhelming love. All portrayed by wonderful dancing, excellent character portrayal and superb choreography.
This story of Cinderella, written by Artistic Director David Nixon, is set in the Moscow area of Russia. The first scene is set in the countryside on a summer afternoon where the family are celebrating Cinderella’s birthday. They are joined by the young Prince Mulakov and his family. Cinderella receives presents, including a shawl from her father. We can already see that her stepmother, danced by Minju Kang, is very disapproving of Cinderella, danced by Rachael Gillespie. The dancing is extremely athletic, in particular the young Prince, danced by Kevin Poeung. The choreography for the dance between Cinderella and Prince Mulakov was faultless. The stepsisters, danced by Kyungka Kwak and Ayami Miyata, portrayed their characters well, already being dominant over their young sister. The party ends in heartbreak when Cinderella’s father is killed, her stepmother blames Cinderella and heartlessly rejects her.
Cinderella’s Stepmother forces her to work as a servant for the family. During the first kitchen scene there is a clever change-over from young Cinderella to older Cinderella, danced by Antoinette Brooks-Daw.
Scene changes are extremely slick, some quite magical and the set designs, by Duncan Hayler, are superb. Tim Mitchell, as lighting designer, gives extra life and movement, in particular the kitchen scenes with his excellent use of shadows.
The lively market scene is great fun, with stilt walker, jugglers, acrobats and even a dancing bear. Costumes are superb with a very Russian feel, thanks to costume designer Julie Anderson. During the market scene we meet The Magician, danced by Mlindi Kulashe, who is a great character and one to love. We also meet the older Prince Mikhail, danced by Sean Bates.
The scene on the crystal lake was certainly my favourite. Very magical and great fun. Skating was amazing with faultless choreography, wonderful set and costumes.
The opening of the ballroom scene was breath-taking with a superb set designed as an opulent Faberge-inspired space, inspired lighting and dancing that was faultless and imaginative – one of the best. We were then treated to some extremely energetic Russian style dancing before the amazing ceiling ‘dome’ moved down and became a splendid doorway through which Cinderella entered, transformed.
Having run away from the ball after her stepmother recognises her, Cinderella then faces rejection by the Prince when he later tries to find the girl who fits the shoe. This gives Cinderella courage to finally stand up to her Stepmother and leave.
The final scene is back on the crystal lake, where we had a happy ending.
With a multi-national, highly talented cast, a musical score and performance full of magic, happiness and moments of sadness, together with a very slick, imaginative set, wonderful costumes, a great story and superb choreography this has to be the one ballet you should not miss.
Tickets cost from £13 (plus £3.65 transaction fee).
Northern Ballet’s Cinderella is at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking from 18-21 September 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/new-victoria-theatre or call the box office on 0844 871 7645.
New Victoria Theatre, The Ambassadors, Peacocks Centre, Woking, Surrey, GU21 6GQ