The biggest change in Scottish Ballet’s adaptation of Cinderella is that Cinders’ gender changes every night, meaning that the audience has no idea which version they will be viewing. There are further plot tweaks, such as the backstory of Cinders – he/she is a son/daughter of a couple who own a busy tailor shop before a devastating fire leaves him/her orphaned. The evil stepmother is replaced by an American heiress, Mrs. Thorne (Grace Paulley), who takes over the shop along with her three children – Morag (Grace Horler), Flossie (Claire Souet) and Tarquin (Aaron Venegas). Rather than a fairy godmother, Cinders Is met by his/her parents (Roseanne Leney and Rimbaud Patron) who help in making the magical night happen.
On the night we were reviewing the show, Cinders was male, and performed beautifully by Bruno Micchiardi, who brings effortless elegance and grace to his performance (he is a 2022 ‘Emerging Artist’ National Dance Awards Nominee, Estonia’s ‘Best Male Dancer’ Award winner 2013, and Young British Dancer of the Year 2010 nominee and 3rd place winner). The princess, played by Jessica Fyfe, does an incredible job in this retelling as she strikes the regal tone just right and owns the stage with her incredible technique.
As the performances and story unfold you quickly forget that the gender roles have been reversed. The show’s choreographer Christopher Hampson has given this tale as old as time a new life. The audience seems excited at the prospect of being surprised, and to experience something new while in the comfort of seeing something they are so familiar with. Hampson joined Scottish Ballet as Artistic Director in 2012, and was appointed CEO/Artistic Director in 2015. His production of Romeo and Juliet, created for the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB), was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Production. Also for RNZB, his Cinderella was hailed as Best New Production by the New Zealand Herald and televised by TVNZ in 2009.
The incredible costumes and set design from Elin Steele are a sight to behold – elegant, classy but never too showy. Steele was the Young Associate Set and Costume Designer for Matthew Bourne’s 2019 UK Tour of Romeo & Juliet. The set and music complement each other perfectly as The Scottish Ballet Orchestra, conducted by Wolfgang Heinz, is without a doubt an incredible addition to the overall experience of the show. The music of Sergei Prokofiev is performed tremendously well and the audience truly shows their appreciation as the curtain falls.
Cinders! proves that the audience is ready for less traditional takes on classics such as Cinderella. Let’s hope this isn’t the last time we see small but meaningful changes in the world of theatre and ballet.
Please note that you can enhance your experience of Cinders! with a pre-show talk on Fri 22nd Dec, when the Scottish Ballet artistic team will share some behind-the-scenes insights into the production. Book your tickets here.
With thanks to Joanna Zuchowska for this review.
While the show continues at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow until 31st Dec, it is set to move to the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh (5th – 20th Jan 2024), His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen (24th – 27th Jan), Eden Court, Inverness (31st Jan – 3rd Feb) and across the border to Theatre Royal, Newcastle (7th – 10th Feb) – Editor.