Matthew Bourne's Cinderella Offers Up The Glitz Of The Silver Screen

Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella, Sadler’s Wells ★★★★☆

By Tiffany Pritchard Last edited 77 months ago

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Last Updated 28 January 2018

Matthew Bourne's Cinderella Offers Up The Glitz Of The Silver Screen Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella, Sadler’s Wells 4
Liam Mower 'The Angel - Cinderella's Fairy Godfather' and Ashley Shaw 'Cinderella'. Photo by Johan Persson

Matthew Bourne yet again sprinkles a touch of festive magic with his latest fairy tale adaptation of Cinderella that places its attention on London’s glamorous underbelly during the second world war.

Updated from Bourne’s first working of the show twenty years ago, and later a second version in 2010 – the celebrated director/choreographer works even harder this time. The result embodies Powell and Pressburger’s silver screen classic A Matter of Life and Death, utilising silvers, blacks and whites to give it an other-worldly feel.

Andrew Monaghan 'Harry' and The Company. Photo by Johan Persson

Lez Brotherston, who won an Olivier Award for his work on the 1997 version, does this effortlessly with his imaginative moving sets and black shimmery screens that often hang in front of the dancers, giving the impression we are watching them in a film.

Brighter colours are pushed through Neil Austin’s lighting, as well as Brotherston’s glitzy 1940s costumes which are dotted throughout the show’s three-act structure. A particular favourite is Act II’s wondrous re-enactment of the Blitz where dancers return from the dead in part-eerie, part-celebratory waltzes at the illustrious, underground club Café de Paris.

Other fancy technical merits include Duncan McLean’s projections, including a roaring fire that invites audiences into the family house, and the newly commissioned recording of Prokofiev’s darkly fanciful score (which premiered at the Bolshoi in 1946) by a 60-piece orchestra. Paul Groothuis brings it to heightened levels with a new surround sound mix, but still, we can’t help think a real orchestra would have been more effective.

Photo by Johan Persson

Like Bourne’s other revered stage adaptations including Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella is a jaw-droppingly gorgeous display of production, truly as if you are watching an old Technicolour film come to life.

The story and dance are secondary in terms of their impact, but it doesn’t matter — the show still dazzles from start to finish. Ashley Shaw (who was also the star of the choreographer’s widely acclaimed seasonal hit The Red Shoes) stars as the dowdy Cinderella who is transformed into a pretty, doll-like princess when lithely dancing with her dashing, injured airman prince (Andrew Monaghan) at the ball.

Photo by Johan Persson

There are the usual other entertaining characters including her over-the-top siblings and Michela Meazza who wonderfully plays the glamourous, yet drunken stepmother. Instead of a fairy godmother, Bourne gives us a guardian angel (Liam Mower) who at times can feel a tad silly in his whimsical segments.

Nevertheless, Bourne serves up another magical treat that is already proving successful with a large portion of tickets sold-out.  

Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella, Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Ave, Clerkenwell, EC1R 4TN. Until 27 January 2018, before embarking on a six month UK tour.