Theatre in Wales

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Ballet Cymru , Riverfront Newport , May 11, 2018
Cinderella by Ballet Cymru Once again Artistic Director/Choreographer, Darius James, with his excellent dancers weaves that special magic that is one of the delightful gifts, the multi-award winning Ballet Cymru always offers us. This production, first seen in 2015, has a darker magic. The wonder begins as we come out of the darkness to see a front cloth of delicate lace with white doves seeming to fly across us. The ghostly white leaves fall from the tress. This picture disappears and as a result of Chris Illingworth giving us more magic with his excellent lighting we see the autumn leaves giving us a warm russet glow from the forest floor.

There’s more new ‘magic’ coming from the orchestra pit. Gone is the traditional Prokofiev music, replaced by music specially commissoned for the production by contemporary composer Jack White, who has recently completed a PhD in composition at Cardiff University. This has enabled the choreographer and composer to work very closely together melding music, dance and feeling into a perfect harmony.

This becomes very clear when we learn that Cinderella’s mother has not long died and we see the sad beauty crying over her mother’s grave, set amongst the trees. Beth Meadway’s hard-pressed waif dances the role so well and we see a sadness in her eyes that quickly endears us to her. Her father, warmly and elegantly danced by Daniel Morrison, introduces Cinders to her new Stepmother, Aerona and to her new Stepsister Seren and Stepbrother Cas. They are very wicked towards our heroine, making her do all the work around the big house and beating and kicking her with aggressive and some times comic, perfectly timed dancing.

Just in passing we see the young Prince riding a bicycle through the forest. His best friend, Maldwyn meets him there. Prince, Robbie Moorcroft and friend, Miguel Fernades perform a neat Pas de deux, it quickly becomes a Pas de trois as the bicycle gets involved.

The nasties continue to harass Cinderella. Eka Mastrangelo as the wicked Stepmother brings a tremendous vitality and strength to her performance and her children danced by Maria Teresa Brunello and James Parratt as well as their unpleasantness bring us some moments of jolly laughter.

But there’s not much laughter when the invitation to the Prince’s Ball arrive. We all know there’s no chance of Cinderella going but her Stepmother taunts her in her iniquitous way and tells that she can go if she picks up all the lentils she has just spilled all over the kitchen floor!

No chance, you might think but here James waves his magic wand again. A friendly flock of birds, some of them flying down from the sky, (By virtue of more wonder from Citrus Art circus.) lead by Krystal Lowe who brings us a very strong sense of character and great presence, the delightful ensemble pick away and the lentils all disappear. They find her a dress. And in a moment she takes us with her to the ball.

Here we see Ballet Cymru’s great ensemble fill the stage. Bright lights, music and joy. Prince, Moorcroft, does a great job chasing Cinderella around the ballroom but she disappears, leaving only that iconic slipper behind. And the hunt is on.

Stepmother, Mastrangelo primes her daughter to try on the slipper – too small. Soon puts this right, she takes a butcher’s clever and cuts off her daughter’s toes, all to no avail. Somehow she gets her son involved, more blood as she chops his heel off. Again to no avail. The inevitable matching up of the owner of the slipper inevitably leads us back to the bright lights and magic of the complete vitality and wonder of this tremendous energetic ensemble bringing joy to our hearts.

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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