The QT

Friday 19 July 2024

Review: Cinders!

Scottish Ballet’s production of Cinders! is at Newcastle Theatre Royal until February 10. Susan Wear took her seat with anticipation for the nightly surprise reveal
Scottish Ballet’s production of Cinders! at Newcastle Theatre Royal

First, the most important thing to note about this wonderful production is that it ends its run at Newcastle Theatre Royal on Saturday (Feb 10) so you if you want to see it in all its glory you need to be quick. 

If you’re lucky enough to get a ticket to Scottish Ballet‘s Cinders! you’ll see a new (and better) version of the old story, on a beautifully crafted set, with the entire ensemble in gorgeous costumes doing more than justice to the captivating choreography of Christopher Hampson (Scottish Ballet’s artistic director/CEO).

There are series of clever and unexpected twists, trysts and turns to follow, but the big reveal at curtain up is whether Cinders will be a man or a woman. 

Cinders is randomly a man, swept of his feet by a Princess.  On this occasion, it was a woman – Gina Scott, who finds her Prince Charming, or Louis in this case, in fellow Scottish Ballet soloist Jerome Barnes.

The story starts with young Cinders, beautifully  danced by Laura Hendry, enjoying an idyllic childhood in her parents’ drapers store where all is happiness and light, until she is orphaned in a fire.  

She is found in the fire embers, and named Cinders in the ‘Newcastle Daily’ headlines.  The store is bought by Mrs Thorne who with her three children bully Cinders and leave her behind when they go to the ball.  

Her children bring a sense of humour to this dark tale – Grace Horler (Morag), Alice Kawalek (Flossie) and Thomas Edwards (Tarquin) provide all the laughs as they fight and bicker, show off and inevitably fall flat on their face.  Their antics at the ball lead to more surprise outcomes, but the ball itself is the grand showpiece for the company. 

In an apparition, Cinders’ parents re-appear with a ticket for the ball and in an enchanted rose-garden the flower fairies create a dazzling gown for Cinders.

And of course the Prince is smitten until the clock strikes 12 and Cinders flees, back in her work clothes, pursued by the Thornes.

A scene from Cinders! from Scottish Ballet

As Prince Louis mourns his loss, Cinders appears in a dream and the couple dance – if the Scottish Ballet Orchestra hadn’t been playing you would have heard a pin drop in the spellbound audience.  The original score by Prokofiev has its own additional twists and turns too.

And of course the hunt for the slipper and the hilarious attempts to make it fit allow Cinders and Prince Louis to finally go off into the sunset or to their version of a happy ending (hope that’s not a spoiler) while the rest get their just desserts too.

So we didn’t get to see a man as Cinders and a woman as the Princess this time, but Jerome Barnes as Prince Louis displayed vulnerability and sensitivity as well as regal presence and Gina Scott’s Cinders is empowered and determined. 

Scottish Ballet’s Cinders! is one to see

Giving fluidity to the roles turns the traditional story on its head, bringing new meaning and inspiration to today’s audience. 

It might seem a bit late for a traditional Christmas story but Cinders! was just the uplifting show we needed – a celebration of incredible dancing skills bringing joy, hope and warmth to a cold February night.

Cinders! is at Newcastle Theatre Royal until Sunday (Feb 10). Visit the website or call the box office on 0191 232 7010 for bookings.


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