★★★ | Northern Ballet’s Cinderella
In a magical retelling of Cinderella, the well-known story is transported to Imperial Russia, whereby following a shooting accident, Cinderella’s father dies and she falls victim to the wicked ways of her evil stepmother. But with Prince Charming looking for love, will Cinderella make it to the ball?
Northern Ballet’s sumptuous production of this beautiful and original ballet is a festive treat and provides a fresh take on an established story. The story itself is familiar but there are a number of aspects which not only elevate this production but which also refreshes the classic fairy tale. The fairy godmother is replaced by a cunning magician, the coach is pulled by huskies and; with the transportation of the story to Russia, the ballet provided a number of scenes set outside the kitchen and the ballroom – including a graceful sequence set on a frozen lake, with the cast “ice skating” across the stage and a carnival scene allowing the stage to be awash with dancers performing a variety of magic and circus skills.
The show was choreographed in beautiful fashion, with superb performances from the cast, all of whom were technically excellent in their dancing. Flashes of Russian dance inspired moves allowed the choreography to be relevant to the setting but never in a way which intruded on the traditional ballet. In terms of the cast, the highlight was Pippa Moore who gave a powerful and commanding performance as the wicked stepmother, portraying the character superbly, demanding the attention of the audience and coming across as icy and vindictive. The remaining cast had mastered a number of other skills, including stilt walking, juggling and acrobatic balancing for the carnival scene. The first act of the show was more narrative based, setting the scene for the second act, which was more focussed on the dancing, including a superb opening number in the ballroom and an elegant dance between Cinderella and the Prince.
The original music was skilfully performed by the live orchestra, with the score ably portraying both the story and the emotions of the piece as it resonated around the opulent Leeds’ Grand Theatre. This production felt like not only a ballet, but also like a classical concert. As always the costumes were put together incredibly well and the whole production was filled with class. One of the strengths of Northern Ballet is their ability to convey the narrative of the story throughout the ballet which makes the whole thing accessible to all. Aside from the dancing, there are enough additional aspects to the show to hold the attention of those who are not necessarily the biggest fans of ballet.
As a piece of theatre, this show was enchantingly staged and provided a delightful evening with a number of magical moments and an abundance of charm.
Northern Ballet’s Cinderella is currently playing at Leeds Grand Theatre until the 4th January 2014. Tickets and more information can be found at http://northernballet.com/?q=cinderella
In between visits to the theatre, watching films, photography, walking, scuba diving and singing (badly); Paul writes for TheGayUK.