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REVIEW Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella, English National Ballet, music by Sergei Prokoviev, Mayflower
Reviewed by Kevin Gover
Images: Main Picture – © Jason Bell;
Images taken inside the Mayflower Auditorium of ENB dancers Emilia Cadorin, Angela Wood, William Simmons and Ivana Bueno – © Photography by ASH
Wow. Who could have failed to have been moved by any aspect of this production; a genuine pre-Christmas treat for all theatre-goers and lovers of this classic tale?
Those who went to the opening night witnessed beautiful costumes, fantastic dancing, stunning scenery and effects – and a real orchestra!
We were all hooked from the moment we knew something was wrong with Cinderella’s mother. The opening sequence was haunting yet beautifully staged.
From that moment on there followed the best part of two hours of some of the best dancing the Mayflower will see in a long time.
I loved the ‘little extras’… the moment when Cinderella accidentally trod on the Prince’s foot and what happens next… the fireworks effects outside… the puppets… and the ever-growing and changing tree which takes us through the seasons. The spring / summer / autumn/ winter sequence drew deserved applause.
The puppets and effects came into their own at the end of Act 1 when we saw Cinderella’s carriage. This little sequence drew loud applause long before it had actually ended. Inspired, fantastic.
Sergei Prokofiev’s score for Cinderella is said to have been written especially with dancing in mind. Gavin Sutherland led the note-perfect English National Ballet Philharmonic. The timpani thumped when the loud fireworks were in the sky. You could hear the clock counting down.
I loved it when the principal dancers were given their own moments to show off their skills individually – and the music written particularly for them.
Credit too to the stepsisters (Fernanda Oliveira and Shiori Kase), for it cannot be easy to dance deliberately in a bad way – and to the stepmother (Sarah Kundi) who had the drunken dancing off to an art.
The ballroom scenes were lavish – and even included Russian, Spanish and Balinese princesses who were all paraded in front of the Prince as potential brides.
The English National Ballet rotate their main performers, but I was very glad that this particular show was given to First Soloist Emma Hawes to dance Cinderella and Principal Francesco Gabriele Frola to portray Prince Guillaume (see main picture below). Their on-stage chemistry was perfect.
Emma was born in Delaware and joined the ENB in 2018, and you may have already seen her dance Cinderella at the Royal Albert Hall. She is just as you would imagine Cinderella to be both in rags and her ballgown: tall, elegant, beautiful. I declare that she looked as if she enjoyed every single second of dancing that part. I’m sure all adults and all children in the auditorium were totally captivated by her.
Francesco also joined the ENB in 2018, has danced around the world and has won medals galore. You can see why. He says his career highlight is dancing Neumeier’s Nijinsky at the Champs Elysees Theatre in Paris.
It’s the ENB’s 70th anniversary – and all credit to them for giving away 70 tickets to local charities and organisations – and a special treat to one lucky audience member!
Also, thanks to the Mayflower volunteers who managed to dig out some of that ENB memorabilia and programmes from the years danced at the Mayflower as the ENB and the Festival Ballet.
Fantastic from start to end.