What a great start to the 2018 dance season! The week before last, I was fortunate enough to be able to watch Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures in Cinderella at the Sadler’s Wells.
As mentioned in my round-up of 2017 dance performances, New Adventures’ interpretation of The Red Shoes was one of my absolute favourite performances of last year, so I was of course incredibly excited to be going to watch Cinderella. The evening did not disappoint.
Matthew Bourne has reimagined the classic fairytale to be set in London during the Blitz. This was my favourite thing about this version, because it gave so much life to the production. I am really interested in history, and I love 1940s fashion so I was really swooning over the glamorous costumes. The story came to life in a new way for me, because I recognised all of the places the story was set; I go through Oxford Circus tube station every day, and had a birthday party at the Café de Paris. I think watching the performance in London gave it that bit of extra magic. More than anything, though, it added a whole new dimension to the Cinderella story. I don’t want to give everything away because I urge you all to try to see it!
The dancing was, as expected, phenomenal. Ashley Shaw as Cinderella moved so fluidly and seemed weightless in the partnering. Her acting was big enough to put across every nuance of her character to the audience, right to the upper slips. I especially loved the glamorous evil stepmother, Sybil, played perfectly by Michela Meazza. In fact, every cast member’s characterisation was right on the money- it can be hard to act through dancing, but all of Bourne’s productions that I’ve seen seem to get it exactly right. I was a little confused by the family in the first scene, though, as I wasn’t sure who was and wasn’t related- those relationships, I think, could have been portrayed clearer.
Another element of this production that I loved was the cinematic quality- the production began with “New Adventures presents… CINDERELLA” projected on to a front screen, and I was just transported to the golden age of cinema. The cinematic influences are also clear in the costumes and characters, and surround sound is even used to complete this experience- there were loud bits that made me absolutely jump out of my skin! I did slosh a little G&T down my front at one point. I also love that the original score is used.
All in all, I think I preferred The Red Shoes to Cinderella, but this was still an absolutely outstanding production. It really brought the fairytale to life for me, and watching it was such an incredible experience in itself. I highly recommend that you watch it- I know that the rest of the Sadler’s Wells shows are now sold out, but I think there are still tickets for New Wimbledon Theatre and other venues. It is still available on BBC iPlayer (but only until Thursday!) here if you can’t get to a live performance, but I really think this is something better experienced in person. Either way, be sure to watch because it’s truly amazing!
If you’ve been lucky enough to watch this performance, or have seen it on television, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it- let me know in the comments below!