REVIEW: Cinderella (Ballet) Mayflower

27
January
2017

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REVIEW: Cinderella, by the Birmingham Royal Ballet – Mayflower 25 January 2017

By Kevin Gover, News Editor

Beautiful, elegant, emotional… and that was just the opening sequence of this splendid production of Cinderella at the Mayflower by the Birmingham Royal Ballet (Royal = The Queen is Patron and The Prince of Wales is President), accompanied by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia.

I think it’s fair to say that in a month that can be – let’s say – difficult until the first pay day after Christmas, this is exactly the kind of production that you need to see, to make you feel good. And so it was – with barely an empty seat to be seen –  that we all enjoyed the next two-and-a-half hours.

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I think we’re all aware of the story – father marries again, stepmother doesn’t want to know Cinderella after he dies, Cinderella gives act of kindness to a stranger (watch how this stranger seemingly appears from nowhere!), Fairy Godmother appears to make real Cinderella’s longing, she goes to the Ball, her Prince rescues her from a life of cruelty.

The movements from Momoko Hirata (Cinderella) are ones to enjoy all evening. When she dances, she DANCES. Right across the stage. How she can make even her rags look so good is beyond me. She joined from the Royal Ballet School in 2003. The company briefly lost her to the Barcelona Ballet in 2011 – but I bet they’re glad to have her back.

Joseph Caley plays the Prince – he’s risen through the ranks quickly as a result of injuries to others, but he’s soared to levels where he shines in his own right. His partnering skills and lifts with Momoko are outstanding.

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There is a worry of course that Cinderella can be upstaged by the Ugly Sisters (pictured below) – but Skinny (Samara Downs) and Dumpy (Laura Purkiss) played it just right. They are splendid dancers in their own right, but it takes a special kind of skill to be able to dance badly (think of the Dawn French sketch with Darcey Bussell in ‘The Vicar of Dibley’). There are plenty of visual comedy routines involving food, shoes and attempts to dance with the Prince. The laughter and applause around me for both of them was loud, long and deserved.

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Cinderella’s Stepmother is played by Marion Tait (pictured below). Well you can see from the image exactly how mean she was. I’m sure she would have been booed loudly in any panto version, but for some reason we refrained in the curtain call!

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Special mention must also go to the Lizard Footmen and the Mice Pages, the Fairy Godmother (Yvette Knight) – and the rest of the huge cast. No expense has been spared here, and it shows.

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The attention to detail for the scenery is astonishing – down to the sink in the kitchen. The lighting (David A. Finn) is also carefully planned and beautifully delivered – from the sunshine in the kitchen to the sunrise at the end.

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The effects are glittering, large, captivating. The coach that takes Cinderella to the Ball is everything you expect of it. The enormous clock that strikes midnight dominates the back of the stage and is a sight to behold.

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And then there’s the music – looking down from the balcony of the Dress Circle, all you could see was the enormous orchestra – and what a sound! Koen Kessels has been Director of music since 2010, and he led the Royal Ballet Sinfonia perfectly through Prokofiev’s score.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s mission statement says the company has a belief that ballet is a “visionary, compelling and relevant art form” that can have a “profound and sophisticated social impact.” I think everyone here tonight would have echoed that sentiment. FIVE STARS – and morecinderellacinderellacinderella

Cinderella continues at the Mayflower until Saturday 28 January. Tickets are still available for the 7.30pm performance on Friday and the 7.30pm performance on Saturday 28 January. However, the 2pm performance on Saturday 28 January is SOLD OUT. The production is then at the Birmingham Hippodrome from 15-26 February, The Lowry in Salford from 1-4 March, Theatre Royal in Plymouth from 8-11 March and the Sunderland Empire from 16-18 March.

Images by Bill Cooper