Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of Cinderella astounds, treating audiences to stunning dance numbers, heart wrenching musical scores and breathtaking costumes. Exploring the poor and mistreated beauty in a new and enchanting way, this adaptation of a classic is a delightful success.
As most will know, the story follows the orphaned Cinderella, brought up locked up by her cruel stepmother and stepsisters. However, a late night visit from a fairy godmother changes her fate for the better. Birmingham Royal Ballet honours the traditional story with very few changes, though they do provide more comedy in their production; much to the audience’s delight. The two evil step sisters are especially amusing, repeatedly leaving the audience in stitches due to their incompetence and desperation.
David Bintley shows his worth as a choreographer in the production, creating performances that amaze the audience throughout. The dancing in Cinderella is consistently good, providing flawless performances which flit between amusing and heartbreaking. The solo performances by Momoko Hirata (Cinderella) and Joseph Caley (The Prince) are especially impressive, as they present the tension of their relationship in a clear and believable way. The performances by the Seasons are also very impressive. Performed by Miki Mizutani (Spring), Celine Gittens (Summer), Yaoqian Shang (Autumn) and Delia Mathews (Winter), the soloists stun with their dancing as they dress Cinderella in her perfect gown for the ball. No faults can be found in their entire production, which uses the space and setting to exaggerate the already spectacular performances.
Whilst these soloists perform admirably, the show is at times stolen by the hilarious performance of the ugly sisters, Skinny and Dumpy, whose petty fights, strained relationship and constant public embarrassment are a source of delight and hilarity in an otherwise sombre story. As well as their hilarity, Samara Downs (Skinny) and Laura Purkiss (Dumpy) also equal the ballet skills of their colleagues. Both embrace the ridiculousness of their characters wholeheartedly, showing special adeptness in the ball scenes, where they provide contrast to Cinderella’s romantic evening with their own attempts at romance. However their attempts at romance do not go nearly so well, as Dumpy is far too distracted by the food, and Skinny is far too desperate in her attempts to woo the Major Domo.
Unsurprisingly, the music in Cinderella is breathtaking, as the orchestra entrance the audience with their skill. Dances are perfectly matched with the music performed, with dramatic scenes exaggerated by forte music, or hilarious scenes that are light and piano. This balance between the music and the dancing create a smooth and flawless production that amazes its audience.
While music and dancing in ballets are the traditional shining stars, in Cinderella it is the costumes that truly steal the show, as John F. Macfarlane’s masterpieces stun audience members throughout. Adding an elegance and beauty to an already impressive production, Macfarlane’s creations perfectly suite each scene. The style of costume remains consistent throughout the production, successfully appearing both modern and yet renaissance. The glittering diamante and sequins which appear on most costumes highlight the movements of the dancers, keeping the audience gripped and aware of what is taking place on stage.
This is a show that should not be missed – Cinderella has something for everyone, making it the perfect night out for any occasion. The costumes, dancing and music provide a feast for the senses, perfectly blending together to create a stunning production. The production has a compelling story and surprising and wonderful honour within, ensuring a production that is not entirely dark, but instead can be light and amusing as well. Birmingham Royal Ballet’s take on this classic tale is a wonderful success, providing delightful escape to all who see it.
Cinderella runs at the Birmingham Hippodrome from 15-25 of February. Tickets can be found here. Watch the trailer below.