My family will confirm that when it comes to a ballet production, I am hard to please. However, last night at Hull New Theatre, I sat to watch Northern Ballet’s production of Cinderella and boy did I love it.
Forget Disney, NB have stripped away the sugar and given us a much more charming story. No fairy godmother and no ugly sisters. No cute mice becoming horses to pull the carriage to take Cinders to the ball. Nope. We got huskies! Yes, you read that correct. Huskies. Ok not real ones but dancers dressed as huskies and they were so cute they got an aaaah from the audience.
Set in Russia, the story opens at a picnic. Step mother, father, Cinders (young Cinders is danced by Miki Akuta) and her step sisters. It’s a shooting party in Russia and unfortunately whilst helping Cinders, her father is accidentally shot and dies. As a result, the family have to move and Cinders begins her role as the family servant. The step mother (danced by Sarah Chun) is magnificently wicked to Cinders and dances the role with style and aloofness.
Here we see a change of dancers in the main role as Cinderella grows and is danced by Minju Kang. It took me a moment to realise the change as it was done so slickly.
The scene changes to a market in Moscow and on came acrobats, stilt walkers, jugglers, and a magician (Ashley Dixon who is a Hull lad). The magic tricks were enthralling and the entire cast were engaged in the scene.
The next scene is set on the frozen lake. On come dancers skating across the stage – reminiscent of Les Patineurs. It was busy and exciting, and Cinderella’s ice dancing catches everyone’s eye. Not so the magician who enters like Bambi on ice. Being the beautiful person she is Cinders helps him.
Invitations arrive for the ball and it is made clear that Cinderella is not allowed to go. Off go the step sisters and step mother, leaving Cinders alone with all of the housework and pots to clean. Enter the Magician. He works his magic and produces sparkly ballet shoes from a pan and then by magic Cinderella’s dress transforms from rags to beautiful sparkles. Everyone gasped. I still am amazed at how they did this. The cooker is transformed into a coach and in come the Huskies to pull the coach. It’s a pity they were on for such a short time but it must have been sweltering in the costumes.
At the ball, Cinderella dances with the Prince. In contrast to the Disney version, the Step mother and sisters do know she is at the ball.
Post-ball, it’s sparkly ballet shoe fitting. All the characters, even the Prince (Javier Torres), laugh at the thought of Cinderella, a servant girl, being the mystery beauty the Prince seeks. Cinderella is humiliated (and I desperately wanted to slap Prince Mikhail) and leaves.
Back at the lake, the Prince is upset he can’t find his love. In the background is the magician again. Cinderella appears with the other shoe and the Prince apologised (I still wanted to slap him).
The costumes in this production were beautiful and the scenery was amazing. The many scene changes were done swiftly and smoothly. I loved each scene. Set simply with the focus on the dancers, the scenery and costumes perfectly complimented the production.
If you love ballet and fairy stories I can highly recommend this production. It’s enchanting, magical and set to beautiful music. A production which makes you dream about it should not be missed. For me, this is the best production from Northern Ballet that I have seen.
Northern Ballet’s Cinderella is at Hull New Theatre until Saturday 19th October.