I went to the premiere of Birmingham Royal Ballet director David Bintley’s Cinderella in 2010 and saw it again when it was revived in 2012. Both times I came away vaguely dissatisfied.
We all know the story, in fact it is over-familiar and for that reason there can really be no surprises, so I went along to see it again with no true sense of anticipation. But right from the off there was something different here, and my spine’s still tingling as I write.
Because this Cinderella is a revelation. Some marvellous power has made this new, subtly updated version crucially urgent, and suddenly the iconic rags to riches story has become insistent, even shocking in its powerful call to our deepest subconscious fears and aspirations.
The poignant opening scene where the downtrodden drudge Cinders looks secretly at her few treasures, keepsakes from her mother, cues us easily in to the classic fairy tale, the preparations for the ball echo the vulgarities of the two sisters as they should, the friendship of the story-book creatures takes us into the uneasy comedy of the ball, but the third act has now become a revelation of what the transcendent beauty of dance can truly be.
Because as Cinderella celebrates the triumph of her love here she embodies completely the exquisite spirit of dance that is classical ballet itself. Every gesture of the golden-clad corps de ballet under Mr Bintley’s expert eye is a miracle of taste. But above all Momoko Hirata as Cinderella now come into her kingdom is radiantly, transcendentally joyful, while Joseph Caley as her prince, a superb premier danseur at all times exhibits a modest restraint, profoundly touching, as he allows his princess-to-be her moment of well-deserved triumph.
Special mention must go to Samara Downs and Laura Perkiss as the spitefully quarrelling and horribly convincing ugly sisters Skinny and Dumpy, but above all to Marion Tait as the wicked stepmother exhibiting her sheer perfection of the great art of mime.
A marvellous evening that drew well-deserved shouts and cheers from the packed audience. Don’t miss it, if you can still get a ticket.
Cinderella runs at the Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday (February 18). For tickets phone the box office on 0844 338 5000 or visit www.birminghamhippodrome.com.