Cinderella review at Hippodrome, Birmingham – ‘a joy to watch’
David Bintley's production of Cinderella for Birmingham Royal Ballet is, for the most part, a sparkling version of the traditional tale. But it opens on a somber note, with a filmic vignette at the grave of Cinderella’s mother – a prelude to the young Cinderella’s sorrowful upbringing. Once the fairy godmother arrives, the meanness of her step-family is soon forgotten.
The production, designed by John Macfarlane, shimmers. The carriage, all too briefly on stage, is a silvery, glass-like vision, while the corps' star-spangled tutus leave no doubt of their celestial status.
The fairy godmother's cosmic realm is one of the more strange and beautiful aspects of this ballet. The four seasons are captured by delicate solo variations while lizards, mice and a frog accompany Cinderella as her footmen. It's details like these that add to the work's fairytale charm.
Premiering in 2010, Bintley's ballet is danced to Prokofiev's original score of which the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, here conducted by Philip Ellis, offer a soft, dreamy interpretation. Subsequently there are occasions where the company sections feel slow, the choreography somewhat repetitive, but the work comes back to life in its solos and duets. Maureya Lebowitz dances Cinderella with a lyrical grace. Her open, expressive demeanour brings a disarming warmth to the role while Mathias Dingman is her cheerful, smooth-dancing prince.
Ruth Brill and Celine Gittens are also excellent as Dumpy and Skinny, Cinderella's mean-spirited stepsisters. They brighten the stage with their gawky actions and constant misdemeanours and their bad ballet dancing is, paradoxically, a joy to watch.