A stunningly lavish production, the English National Ballet brings Cinderella in-the-round to the Royal Albert Hall.

Credit: Laurent Liotardo

The scenery relied heavily on projections (designed by Daniel Brodie), but these were so beautifully done, transforming the space into gardens, palaces, ballrooms, kitchens and magical worlds with such precision and wonder. Drapes fall from the ceiling and are scooped into a bell creating a tree shape that changes throughout the acts. There were audible gasps from the audience with a young girl next to me shouting “wow” when it happened. It is magical. 

For the majority of the ballet the orchestra are behind the projection screen, but at the ball scene this is pulled back to allow for the audience to see the musicians and also add to the idea of the ball. It is beautifully done and the music is wonderful. 

There are a number of changes to the story – most notably the absence of a fairy godmother. Instead we have The Fates and Nature taking on the roles of magically manipulating events in Cinderella’s favour. It’s incredibly effective; the four fates create beautiful lifts for Cinderella to move around the floor. Another character choice I really enjoyed was the step sisters. Instead of a pantomime dame, physically ugly rendition that often feels a bit dated now, the sisters’ personalities and lack of grace creates their ugliness. As a Cinderella enthusiast I actually adored this reinterpretation.

With over three hundred costumes, the ballet is an absolute feast for the eyes. Julian Crouch’s designs are magical, and each scene has at least one change, if not more. With Period ballgowns, tulle dresses, headdresses, lace, and puppetry – the horse chestnuts costumes were a thing to behold. 

Credit: Andy Paradise

Step sisters played by Francesca Velicu and Natascha Mair are incredibly entertaining and wonderful performers, injecting a humour into the scenes. Velicu jumping on pointe was both hilarious and terrifying – I cannot imagine full force thumping on pointe, but it was so entertaining. Eireen Evard’s stepmother performing her drunken dance at the ball was belly laugh inducing – absolutely masterful! 

The ensemble cast are able to show off the incredibly talents of ENB during the Four Seasons dances. Each season has its own section and projection change. The tulle costumes on the female dancers flow with their movement – the choreography in Spring bright; Summer energetic; Autumn moving lower; and Winter staccato. The end of the section is a swirl of colour as Cinderella’s dress is transformed. What an incredible way to end Act 1. 

Credit: Andy Paradise

However, the ensemble ball choreography was not my favourite as there was almost too much going on. This is definitely personal preference as I enjoy large portions of unison movement. It also just doesn’t feel as tight as the Four Seasons sections. 

Cinderella (portrayed by Shirori Kase ) is beautiful – elegant, soft, and utterly controlled with such an ease to her movements. Lorenzo Trossello’s Prince is a little disappointing. The ball scene solo doesn’t feel as controlled as you would hope, and there were some awkward hand fumbles during the duets with Cinderella. 

Overall the production is stunning, and having ballet in the round is a beautiful experience. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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