This miniature production presents Prokofiev’s ballet in an hour long version intended for children of three and over. The story is told in pictograms in the programme, ballet movements are reinforced with borrowings from British Sign Language and there’s a narrator to translate verbally. You couldn’t do more to make the story clearer to children of all abilities and levels – including those with special needs.
This is the fifth such show English National Ballet School – with choreography by 2010 alumnus, George Williamson – has mounted in collaboration with English National Ballet since 2012. It works at several levels. The production provides invaluable on-the-road and on-the-boards experience for second year ENBS students. At the same time it has all the advantages of ENB’s production values including its costumes and sets – stunning outfits in muted dark blue for the eight-strong corps de ballet at the ball, for example. It’s a pity about the pre-recorded music (Moscow Film and TV Symphony Orchestra) which inevitably leads to occasional choreographic imprecision but it’s hard to see how they could get this show affordably on the road in any other way.
Sarah Goddard narrates the story as an older Cinderella, dressed as a princess recalling her past. She uses a rather odd (faintly irritating) lispy voice although there’s a warmly wistful smile in it too. The words are well paced against the music although, inclusivity issues apart, the show would work perfectly well without commentary as its original creators intended.
Each episode is very short and even the youngest most fidgety audience (and the one I was part of was actually very quiet and engaged) doesn’t need a 15 minute interval after only 25 minutes. High spots include two entertaining duets by Cinderella’s step sisters dancing “badly” in heavy 3/4 with the Prince and a lovely dance full of youthful energy and good leaps by the Prince’s four (male) friends. The final love pas-de-deux is very pleasing too.
It’s the graphic colour and beauty of Prokofiev’s evocative score which really carries the show, though. It may be less well known than his Romeo and Juliet but it is every bit as fine. The production is on tour until 27 May.
First published in Lark Reviews http://www.larkreviews.co.uk/?cat=3