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Northern Ballet - Cinderella, on tour Autumn 2019

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  • 2 months later...

After all the excitement of the Linbury last week and Dracula the week before, Northern Ballet are back touring their lovely production of Cinderella to Newcastle this week.  I saw the performances on Wednesday and Thursday.


David Nixon's is no traditional pantomime-style production.  He has chosen to set the ballet in Imperial Russia where there are so many Princes dotted all around the country so this is a provincial Prince we are seeing rather than someone at the court in St Petersburg.  It is also performed to a commissioned score by Philip Feeney - a great favourite of long-standing fans of Northern Ballet.


The action opens on Young Cinderella's birthday, a celebration being held outside in a countryside setting.  She is reminiscing about her dead Mother when her father appears and presents her with a shawl with which she is delighted.  Her step-sisters are teasing rather than malicious.  The local aristocracy appear with their son Young Prince Mikhail who presents Cinderella with a bracelet.  As the celebration continues Cinderella's step-sisters are teasing her and grab her new shawl and in the hurly burly that follows it gets thrown over the stream.  That area is out of bounds because hunters are out with their guns.


Her step-sisters are embarrassed and Cinderella is distraught.  Her Father finds her, goes to rescue the shawl and the inevitable happens.


The action then moves to the household.  The Stepmother blames Cinderella for her father's death and reduces her to skivvy.  It is obvious that her own daughters are frightened of her too.  As the years pass Young Cinderella becomes "Mature" Cinderella.


When Cinderella goes out to get some shopping there is a fair going on with acrobats and a rather inept magician. "Mature" Prince Mikhail is there with his friends and does not even notice his childhood friend because she is now so lowly in the hierarchy.  This scene is huge fun (as well as being tinged with Cinderella's sadness).


The story then becomes a bit more conventional ...  The ball invitations arrive and the Step-Mother destroys Cinderella's and tells her to clean all the old pans instead.  She and her daughters go off to the ball.  The Magician arrives at the house.  He is played by the same dancer who has danced her father so we can imagine, if we want, that he is her guardian angel.  He magically presents her with a coach, some huskies to pull it and, of course, a beautiful ball-gown.  He also magically cleans all the pots and pans!  There is a clock whirring around projected onto the set but it actually proves unnecessary.


Act 2 opens at the ball (with a gorgeous Faberge-egg style backdrop) with Cinderella's step-sisters making goggle eyes at the Prince.  Cinderella arrives and it is love at first sight.  She and the Prince have the most touching duet.  Cinderella's Step-mother recognises her and is about to expose her when the Magician arrives and pulls Cinderella away.  As you can see, although the clock is shown again, Cinderella's departure is caused by her step-mother recognising her rather than midnight arriving.  She leaves a shoe behind and the Prince finds it and is determined to look for Cinderella.


Cinderella is back at home cleaning the pans when the Prince arrives and is shown into the drawing room.  Cinderella's step-mother makes her serve him with tea and he does not recognise her because she is below his station.  Her step-mother exposes her and the Prince is horrified that he has fallen in love with a lowly servant.  He rushes away.  His denial of her gives Cinderella the strength to stand up to her step-mother and leave.


The Prince and his friends are at the frozen lake when Cinderella arrives and the magician weaves some magic.  There is the most beautiful and emotional reconciliation duet to end the ballet with the magician looking on benignly.


The crowd scenes are fun, especially with the acrobats and jugglers.  There is a gorgeous skating scene on the frozen lake.  For me though it is the interactions between Cinderella and the Prince that make this ballet really special.  There is a delightful duet for the youngsters and then 2 major duets for Cinderella and the Prince.  Both of these are delicate, emotional and just plain beautiful.


The three performances I saw on the very small Newcastle stage were superb.  I was fortunate to see 3 different casts:


Dominique Larose/Riku Ito/Matthew Toplis (magician); Ayami Miyata/Matthew Koon/Nicola Gervasi (making their debuts); Abigail Prudames/JosephTaylor/Mlindi Kulashe.


I must mention Rachael Gillespie who danced Prince's friend at 2 performances and Young Cinderella at the third.  She has such a special presence on the stage that it is almost impossible to take your eyes off her.


Sarah Chun and Minju Kang both terrified the life out of me as step-mother.  Both these dancers are also cast as Cinderella so I hope that I can catch them elsewhere on the tour.


This is a very different and very lovely Cinderella and I can't wait to see it again!





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  • 3 weeks later...

We were in Norwich for the three performances at the weekend.


On Friday night I saw Sarah Chun/Jonathan Hanks/Nicola Gervasi (Magician) which was a new cast to me.  They were fabulous!  Jonathan Hanks is a supremely elegant dancer with gorgeous classical lines and his acting was exemplary.  Having seen Sarah as a vicious step-mother in Newcastle it was good to see what a good actress she is with her lovely soft portrayal of Cinderella.  What a beautiful performance we enjoyed that evening.


I also caught Antoinette Brooks-Daw as a very vicious stepmother who terrified her own daughters let alone Cinderella.  She is another very versatile actress and I really hope to catch her as Cinderella.


Of the step-sisters I must mention Julie Nuñes and Natalia Kerner who were both totally hilarious!


As a Patron of NB I was able to watch company class on Saturday morning and what a thrill it was to have Cinderella composer Philip Feeney playing for the class!!

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  • 3 weeks later...

There was some unplanned drama in the first act of 'Cinderella' at today's matinee. The elements of the kitchen set, instead of coming together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, crashed into each other and caused the curtain to be lowered for a few minutes until the problem was sorted out! It didn't stop a large and well-behaved audience of children enjoying the show immensely, with the wicked stepmother being thunderously booed, panto style!


I have to say that although I enjoyed the performance and the unusual take on the Cinderella story, the score left me cold. I really missed Prokofiev's music.



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  • 2 weeks later...

I saw my final 2 live ballet performances of 2019 in Leeds on Friday and we were treated to 2 lovely performances of Cinderella.  Fortunately there were no mishaps with the set as reported by Alice Shortcake.


In the afternoon I finally caught up with Minju Kang and Javier Torres in the leading roles - they were absolutely wonderful together.  Javier brings so much emotion to the role of the Prince.  I was really choked up during the final, reconciliation duet.  Minju is just sublime as Cinderella.  Sarah Chun again proved to be absolutely terrifying as the Step-Mother ... beautifully understated menace.


Sarah was definitely earning her crust on Friday because in the evening she gave us a gorgeous performance as Cinderella with Jonathan Hanks as her delightful and incredibly elegant Prince.  On Friday evening Julie Nunès and Albert Gonzalez Orts (in his first year in the company and still an apprentice) were a total delight as the young Cinderella and Prince.


I love Philip Feeney's score and the fact that the ballet ends on almost a quiet, reflective note.


Roll on the gala next week!





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Just loved Cinderella this afternoon. 

Abigail Prudames as Cinderella, Minju Kang as the stepmother, Joseph Taylor as the prince and the amazing Nicola Gervasi as the magician. 


They were all wonderful and I could watch it a thousand times, especially the mesmeric skating scene. 

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