Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Preview: Cinderella at Sunderland Empire

4000 horses pull Cinders magical coach to Sunderland Empire

Birmingham Royal Ballet


Sunderland Empire

Thursday 16th – Saturday 18th March 2017

Elisha Willis as Cinderella and Victoria Marr
as the Fairy Godmother with Artists of
Birmingham Royal Ballet; photo: Bill Cooper
A fleet of articulated lorries, harnessing the equivalent power of 4000 horses, is set to roll out of
Birmingham this month as Birmingham Royal Ballet begins its UK tour of Cinderella, with a date at Sunderland Empire from Thursday 16thSaturday 18th March 2017, on a scale comparable to any major rock band's road trip.

James Barton as the Frog Coachman,
Valentin Olovyanikov and Jonathan Payn as Lizard
Footmen and Students of Elmhurst School for
Dance as Mouse Pages; photo: Bill Cooper
Broadcast by the BBC as the 2010 Christmas Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet's version of Cinderella won the Best Classical Choreography at the prestigious 2011 Critic's Circle National Dance Awards for David Bintley's elegant choreographic work.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of Cinderella premiered in 2010. The ballet is in three acts closely following the traditional Cinderella story of the wicked stepmother, ugly sisters, the fairy Godmother and of course, the slipper.

Delia Mathews as ‘Winter’; photo: Bill Cooper
The music is the complete original score by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev which premiered in 1945 at the Bolshoi in
Moscow but the choreography, by Company Director David Bintley, was created for this version. The set and costume designs are by John F. Macfarlane who designed the Company’s famous, and hugely popular, version of The Nutcracker and the lighting is by David A. Finn, who also lit The Nutcracker.

Elisha Willis as Cinderella with Artists of
Birmingham Royal Ballet; photo: Bill Cooper
In a break from the character portrayal in Cinderella that has dominated in recent years, David Bintley returned to the original idea of having ballerinas as the two sisters who are ‘ugly on the inside’, rather than being played by two men. He also added a short prologue showing Cinderella and father at her mother’s graveside. This also serves as the introduction of the wicked stepmother who comes to dominate the family.

Marion Tait as Cinderella’s Step Mother; photo: Bill Cooper
John Macfarlane’s designs, originated in close collaboration with David Bintley, offer some true coups de theatre including a giant ticking clock and a beautiful carriage described by one critic as being ‘like spun sugar’.

With beautiful choreography and clear narrative the ballet offers ample opportunities for acting and comedy, particularly for the two sisters, Skinny and Dumpy. It also has great family appeal. Not only does it feature traditional ballerinas,  but also roles for dancing lizards, mice and a frog!

photo: Bill Cooper
From its base in the heart of the city, Birmingham Royal Ballet takes its spectacular version of Cinderella around the country on a logistical scale comparable to any major rock tour.

Ten articulated lorries packed with scenery flats, props, lighting rigs, rails of costumes, flight cases of wigs and all the materials necessary to stage this beautiful ballet pound the motorways of
Britain, taking the show to Southampton, Salford, Plymouth and Sunderland in addition to a two week run at Birmingham Hippodrome, the home venue of the Company.

photo: Bill Cooper
At each venue the production must adapt its sets to work perfectly on a new and different sized stages and dancers must perform in up to a third less space, taxing the ingenuity and skill of over 50 backstage staff and nearly 40 dancers nightly and, at each venue, the production features the Royal Ballet Sinfonia bringing Prokofiev’s spiky, lush and romantic score to life.

The precision is military, the result magical.

Each venue requires between two and three days for each build or ‘get in’ and following the final night of the production the technical crew work straight on through the night to break down and load up before leaving for the next venue on the tour.
Elisha Willis as Cinderella and Iain Mackay
as the Prince; photo: Bill Cooper
  • 10 articulated lorry trailers in total  
  • 5 scenery trucks
  • 1 flooring truck
  • 3 lighting trucks
  • 1 costume truck 
  • 31 rails of costumes
  • 8 baskets of shoes
  • 78 wigs
  • 250 hair rollers
  • 1000 hair pins
  • 174 complete costumes
  • 20 fat suits
  • 44 tutus
  • 2 washing machines and dryers
  • 25 core technical staff
  • 20 venue staff
  • 64 orchestra musicians
  • 39 dancers

Production credits: Music: Sergei Prokofiev; Choreography: David Binley
Production: David Bintley; Designs: John F. Macfarlane; Lighting: David A. Finn

Tickets available in person at the Box Office on High Street West, from the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 3022* or online at*
*Calls cost up to 7p per minute plus your standard network charge. Booking fees may apply to telephone and online bookings

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