Review: Cinderella, by Birmingham Royal Ballet, at Birmingham Hippodrome
I must admit that I was rather worried about Birmingham Royal Ballet’s new version of Cinderella, choreographed by the company’s artistic director, David Bintley.
At this time of year there is usually the company’s always enjoyable Nutcracker to look forward to, with it’s Christmas cosiness and child-friendly characters.
I’m pleased to say that Cinderella also has plenty of Crimbo sparkle, even though at times it is also a rather dark piece, reflecting Prokofiev’s searing score.
The early kitchen scenes where Cinderella (Elisha Willis) is routinely abused by the ugly sisters, Skinny and Dumpy (Gaylene Cummerfield and Carol-Anne Millar) manage to be both sinister and amusing.
The stage design at this point is rather stark. The kind of gritty realism you would find in an early 1960s movie starring Albert Finney.
Once the Fairy Godmother arrives, the performance explodes into a dreamlike fantasyscape. Everything is magical and shimmering.
Stand out images include the scene where the clock strikes midnight. The dancers surrounding Cinderella and the Prince move with a shuddering twitchiness turning them into the workings of a clock.
Ian Mackay, as the Prince, isn’t as intense as certain other principal dancers. But he brings a youthful, Tiggerish charm to the role.
Elisha Willis has the creamy fluidity you would expect from a Cinderella, with a shard of inner metal to prove she is no pushover.
Any ballet that is performed in late November and December should always have plenty of fairy tale flourish.
And this ravishing new version of Cinderella has all the right qualities. It twinkles like a layer of freshly fallen snow under moonlight.
Children will love it – adults too.
Birmingham ballet buffs are bound to have a ball this winter.
* Cinderella is at the Birmingham Hippodrome until December 12.