Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Cinderella on Ice, Aug 5, 2008 ****

Cinderella on Ice
By The Imperial Ice Stars
State Theatre, Aug 5 to 10, 2008
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

If you have never seen it, ice dance looks like a cross between classical ballet and Olympic gymnastics. It has all the grace and elegance of dance that appeals to the little ballet girls in the audience, but it has plenty of high-octane, muscular tricks to appeal to wriggling boys. 

My companion, an 8 year-old boy, kept whispering, “How did they do that? Strings?” Of course, it is designed for adults as well.

In Cinderella on Ice there is a plethora of complex and sustained pirouettes, over the head power lifts and extraordinary body balances in twos, threes or even fours. The amazing part is that this is all done at speed, on an icy surface while balancing on a thin metal blade.

This is a colourful, athletic and exhilarating show with a fairy tale set and exceptional ice dancers. The Imperial Ice Stars is the brainchild of Producer, James Cundall and Director/Choreographer, Tony Mercer but the entire cast and most of the production team are Russian. Tim. A. Duncan and Edward Barnwell composed the original score.

Olga Sharutenko (OK) brings grace and delicacy to the young Cinderella. Playing her father, the watchmaker, is the charismatic Vadim Yarkov (OK), past winner of 20 gold medals. His strength, dignity and passion are compelling. Olena Pyatash (OK) manages to make Cinders wicked stepmother look deliciously haughty and sexy while Svetlana Fadeeva (OK) and Olga Boguslavska (OK) combine the comedy with intentional awkwardness as the ambitious but clumsy stepsisters.

Andrei Penkine (OK) has exceptional technical skill playing the lithe and boyish prince although, in this version of the story, he is actually the Mayor’s son. Supporting the principals is an ensemble of ice dancers who all perform skating wizardry. The percussive, robotic clock dance is striking.

The narrative of this new version of Cinderella is sometimes difficult to follow without program notes but it is a novel view of Cinderella. She comes to the attention of the Mayor (Stanislav Voituk OK) and his son when she dances the lead in Swan Lake. Her gypsy fortune teller /fairy godmother (Viktoria Zhukovstova OK)
Sends her to the Mayor’s Ball is a truly scintillating carriage and, of course, she wins the son’s heart despite the interference of her step-family and all ends happily.

Despite being kept waiting for 40 minutes on opening night (was the ice melting?) the show is a whimsical and often enchanting show for the family.

By Kate Herbert

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