I should set out at the outset that I am not an expert on any form of dance. Nor have I had any formal training in dance. I watch dance to enjoy the stories told in imaginative ways. I also watch dance to be captivated by form and movement. Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Cinderella fulfilled both requirements in abundance.
Like most people, I watched this ballet last Christmas when it was televised on BBC and it was thoroughly enjoyable. But watching the same performance with virtually the same cast live on stage is mind blowing and truly magnificent. A lavish production, this is superb in every way: the imaginative re-enactment of a well known story, the music, the choreography, the comedy, the set and the costumes. This production is a feast for the eyes and a feast for the ears.
My favourite characters are the stepmother (Marion Tait) and the two stepsisters (Gaylene Cummerfield and Carol Anne-Millar). Carole Anne-Millar as the Dumpy Stepsister is a sheer pleasure to watch from the start to the finish. Donning a fat suit, her comic timings, facial expressions and body movements are faultless and a joy to behold. Under Robert Gibbs’ baton, Prokofiev’s score sounded brilliant from the orchestra. Another very clever and enjoyable element is when the we see the clock ticking away to midnight, when Cinderella has to leave her ball. This scene is just before the second interval and Cinderella’s dash towards the clock does end the second Act with much aplomb. The curtain screen comes down with a Dali-esque picture of a clock, suggesting discord and confusion in the world.
All in all, this is a truly gripping theatrical spectacle, and it feels like the the right world to escape to for a few hours amidst these uncertain times.
Cinderella by the Birmingham Royal Ballet is on at the London Coliseum until 2 April.
Running time is approximately 160 minutes including two intervals.