The Birmingham Royal Ballet welcomes you to a world where Fairy Godmothers triumph over cruel stepmothers, pumpkins turn into sparkling carriages and a jewelled slipper changes one girl’s life forever…
The familiar story of Cinderella has been reimagined a thousand times on stage and film and we were curious to see whether the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s latest touring production would evoke the darkness of the Brothers Grimm or the saccharine sweetness of the ever popular Disney retelling. In truth David Bintley’s version is definitely on the lighter side, but that’s not to say there isn’t real graduation of tone, from the opening scene at the graveside of Cinderella’s mother, hauntingly played out in silhouette, to the dream-like Ballroom sequence featuring glittering costumes and a palpable sense of magic in the air.
Jenna Roberts is exquisite in the title role, moving from fragility and sadness to radiance and regal grace with ease, and her duets with Prince Charming, William Bracewell, are a highlight. A special mention must go to the sisters Skinny, Samara Downs, and Dumpy, Laura Purkiss and their scene stealing comic performances, less cruel than childish, although Marion Tait as the stepmother more than makes up for it in the villain stakes. The Frog Coachmen and Lizard Footmen were also audience favourites.
The Royal Ballet Sinfonia delivers Prokofiev’s lush and jubilant score with a lightness of touch that beautifully compliments Bintley’s choreography and John McFarlane’s (designer of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s famous Nutcracker) enchanting set. This production is a real treat for the senses, the icing on the cake a magical carriage that looks good enough to eat – but there is just enough bittersweet in the scenes with a downtrodden Cinderella to avoid toothache.
At 2 hours 30 minutes long the attention of the younger would-be princesses in the audience was beginning to wane towards the final act, but the dazzling climax as the heroine and her prince walk into the dawning of a new day was enough to have even the most cynical amongst us believing in happily ever after. In the words of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, “this timeless story of love, courage and kindness reminds us all to have faith in our wildest dreams… someday they might just come true”.
Birmingham Royal Ballet`s Cinderella is on at The Lowry until Saturday 4th March- For tickets and more information click HERE
Additional reporting by Helen Brandon