'They all danced beautifully, with convincing emotion. I loved the cheekiness of Joseph Taylor’s acting of the prince'
NORTHERN BALLET Cinderella Review -Theatre Royal Newcastle
Monday 12 November 2019 and we at InNewcastle.co.uk had been invited to the Theatre Royal Newcastle to review this production of Cinderella by Northern Ballet.
Choreographed, direction and costume design all completed by the company’s artistic director David Nixon and the score by Philip Feeney.
Step away from any Disney manifestations of Cinderella and go to the traditional Cendrillon ou la petite pantoufle de verre, by Perrault.
The majority of Cinderella stories tell the same tale; father dies, Cinderella left with her, ‘Wicked’ stepmother and stepsisters, godmother, glass slipper (sparkling ballet slipper) and then a happily ever after.
Nixon’s version is set in the countryside outside Moscow and it all starts off quite happily with Cinderella being a loved member of the family by sisters and stepmother and beloved father Count Serbrenska.
Cinderella and the sisters meet Prince Mikhail, son to Prince and Princess Mulakov, who are good friends of the Count. Prince Mikhail will become a love-interest later in the act.
The initial love seen in the opening scene quickly disappears once her father dies in a freak shooting accident (suspend your belief) whilst salvaging his daughter’s shawl (which features heavily throughout). The stepmother’s actions are unkind and the costuming and dance fitted well with the narrative.
In this version, Cinders didn’t have to make do with mice as friends as there were other ‘servants’ working for the stepmother who she could spend her time with.
Cinders was requested to attend Prince Mikhail’s ball however her place was denied. Cue the fairy godmother, where are you, fairy godmother?… There was, in fact, no fairy godmother in sight but a seemingly reincarnated father in the form of a travelling magician took the place. Mlindi Kulashe played both the Count and the magician with aplomb especially in the later part where his humour shone through.
Of course, Cinderella had to transform and this is where I feel some of the staging in the form of neon lights (which feature in another scene also) didn’t fit but I guess it married with the long fur coats changing into three huskies to pull the sleigh. For me, it possibly detracted a little too much from the quality of other scenes. At times it felt that there was more then one stage designer as the offerings conflicted and not necessarily in a positive way.
Feeney’s score kept me interest but at times he definitely could have let it rip. Plus the rain noise made by the Glockenspiel kept making me need the toilet.
The cast for the evening featured;
Abigale Prudames:Cinderella , Joseph Taylor: Prince Mikhail, Sarah Chun: Stepmother, Kyungka Kwak: Step sister Natasha, Ayami Miyata:Step sister Sophie, Mlindi Kulashe:Magician, Rachel Gillespie:Young Cinderella, Matthew Koon:Young prince
They all danced beautifully, with convincing emotion. I loved the cheekiness of Joseph Taylor’s acting of the prince he worked the, hey I’m awesome look at me, without over-egging it. Mlindi was my cast hero tonight.
If I had to choose a favourite scene it would be the ballroom where everyone was in their finery and the prince and Cinderella were lost in each other but all too soon it was midnight. Closely seconded by the scene at Crystal lake but I’m beginning to feel I’m giving too much away.
My stomach was knotted during the scene when the Prince found it hilarious that anyone would think that, he the prince would dance with a mere scullery maid. The class system could well and truly be seen here. However, from knotting in the stomach to a high five was when the prince realised his mistake and Cinderella dealt with it with style and panache. Go Cinders.
All in all, Northern Ballet delivered a quality performance to its audience and I give it a strong 8 out of ten.
The production is running until Saturday, Nov 16, now go and find your sparkly slippers you will be the belle of the ball.
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