Reviewed by Joy Wright
There have been many interpretations of the classic fairy tale Cinderella and Northern Ballet, now in their 50th year, are currently touring with David Nixon’s vision around theatres in the UK and it is a story worth telling again in this visual treat.
The artistic director, Nixon, had a clear vision and it translates well to this production, he writes of his own inspiration and how Cinderella is transported to Moscow for the telling. We see Rachael Gillespie as the young Cinderella, radiant in her role and this passes easily to Abigail Prudames as the slightly older Cinderella now bereaved and forlorn and living as a servant, blamed for her father’s death.
The set, by Duncan Hayler, is dynamic and beautifully designed and the lighting of Tim Mitchell brings it all to life, creating beautiful transitional scenes, a delicate crystal lake and shades of sorrow and loss. There’s a scene which is so clearly inspired by Faberge, again, all aspects of this ballet are accessible. It is a stunning scene with an idyllic feel.
Replacing the fairy godmother is the Magician, a joyous role performed by Mlindi Kulashe with humour and a depth of performance not always seen in ballet. He’s comedic whilst elegant and portrays a character with depth. This, in my experience, is characteristic of the Northern Ballet, there is genuine theatrical performance, facial expression and physical expression not contained only within dance. Not every toe is pointed, and it is still refreshing to see modern blends appearing within 21st century ballet. It makes ballet easier to interpret, more joyful to watch and adds nuances beyond the scope of the original form. There are moments of genuine comedy, again refreshing in ballet and the audience could be heard to laugh in several moments of genuine mirth.
Another blend within performance is the addition of circus skills from Sheffield’s own Greentop Circus and this adds a dash of new physical performance to the Winter Market scenes where Cinderella is seen experiencing emotional highs and lows.
I especially appreciate that there are no idle moments on the stage, the dancers in the background do not stand in perfect poses and watch the principals, they are moving, acting and reacting and this is again a feature of this ballet, especially enjoyable when watching Mariana Rodrigues as Cinderella’s step-mother during the Winter Ball. She is perpetually performing, always conveying her thoughts and demonstrating expression throughout. It’s a moment when all eyes should be on Cinderella, but take a moment to watch her if you can.
The costumes are naturally beautiful and with the Russian theme there is a new type of luxury added to the design and a lovely moment of costume change happens before the eyes of the audience. It creates decadence, a contrast to Cinderella’s reduction to kitchen servant.
The company are combined of a truly worldwide talent with dancers from many countries, with such an array of skill you can be sure you’re in for a beautiful night at the theatre.
Tickets cost from £10 (booking fees may apply).
Northern Ballet’s Cinderella is at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield from 24-28 September 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk or call the box office on 0114 249 6000.
Lyceum Theatre, Norfolk St, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1 1DA | 0114 249 6000