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My First Cinderella @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

Published by: Yvonne Delahaye on 21st Apr 2013 | View all blogs by Yvonne Delahaye

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How many of us can remember our first ever visit to a real theatre?  What about our very first live ballet?  I grew up in a remote area on the Welsh borders in the foothills of the Black Mountains, so theatre for me was village hall productions and ballet was just something I knew about from the TV.  Somehow when I was 8 years old I’d decided I wanted to be a ballet dancer, even though there were no ballet classes in the area and I’d never seen a ballet!  Who knows how images are formed in our minds when we’re young, but although I didn’t ever do ballet, I did go on to become an actress!

My First Cinderella is aimed at children from 3+ to introduce them to the world of ballet and the magic of live theatre.  I took my grown-up niece Melissa and her little boy Cain (yes that does make me a Great Aunt – but if you emphasise the word GREAT it doesn’t make me sound ancient!) to see the show.  Cain is just over two and a half, but is a fan of Strictly Come Dancing and has a cartoon ballet DVD that he loves watching, so we felt he was ready for his first live theatre experience.

The My First... series brings young audiences their first taste of ballet through the magic of fairytales, captivating music and beautiful dance. ENB2 features graduating dancers of outstanding potential from English National Ballet School in performances produced by English National Ballet.  My First Cinderella is choreographed by George Williamson, English National Ballet’s Associate Artist. Earlier this year, at the age of 21, he created Firebird; a new work to Stravinsky’s classic score for English National Ballet.

My First Cinderella tells everyone’s favourite rags-to-riches story in a beautifully adapted version for young audiences. Cinderella is tormented by her spiteful stepsisters and longs to attend the Prince’s glamorous ball. Abandoned to an evening of drudgery, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother appears and transforms her into a glittering Princess who shall go to the ball.

Concept and Direction: George Williamson and Loipa Araujo
Choreography George Williamson
Company Répétiteur: Antony Dowson
Musical Director: Gavin Sutherland
Costume: David Walker

The theatre was packed with children of all ages, some dressed as Cinderella and Prince Charming, accompanied by parents, grandparents and aunties.  Cain was enthralled as the story was narrated throughout by actress Jane Wymark, dressed as the Pastry Cook, who gave all the characters a new voice and accent.  It’s a wonderful way of explaining the story to children, bringing the fairy story to life and enabling us to understand the dance.  The production is colourful with sumptuous costumes and vibrant sets and everyone was drawn into the magic.  We hadn’t seen the Four Seasons in Cinderella before, so that was a new innovation, but it worked really well to transport the scenes from kitchen to ballroom.

It was also good to see that audience interaction brought elements of panto into the show, as the kids were encouraged to shout out ‘he’s behind you’.

The running time of one hour and 20 minutes with an interval is absolutely perfect to keep children’s attention.  Cain was captivated by it all and only once did he start to look around at the ceiling and start asking ‘what’s that’, the way small children do!
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After the show, Cain had a little run around outside and as we went back in for me to take this photo, he asked if we were going to see the show again?  That surely must be the ultimate critique of the show if a two year old wants to go and see it again, then it really is good.  When he saw his Nana later on he very excitedly told her all about it! I hope that when he’s grown up (and I actually feel like the elderly great-aunt that the image conjures up), he’ll remember the magic of seeing his very first ballet in this wonderful theatre!

The tour continues to:

Bromley, Churchill Theatre
27/04/13 – 28/04/13
Oxford, New Theatre
4/05/13 – 5/05/13
Crawley, The Hawth
11/05/13 – 12/05/13
Manchester, Opera House
18/05/13 – 19/05/13
London, Richmond Theatre
25/05/13 – 26/05/13
www.ballet.org.uk

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
20.4.13

Comments

1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 5 years ago
    Thanks, Yvonne. What a great concept!
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