The Imperial Ice Stars have returned to Johannesburg for the festive season with a spectacular reworking of the classic Cinderella fairy tale – and warmed the hearts of their audience.
The traditional story of Cinderella has been reinterpreted with the focus on a more contemporary feel. This lovely creature (Olga Sharutenko) is not a very happy child since her mother passed away and her father, a watchmaker (Sergei Lisev), has remarried an evil woman (Maria Mukhorttova). Her stepmother has two nasty daughters (Alina Saprykina and Elena Shurakova) who belittle their stepsister and make her life a misery.
The narrative then follows the more traditional trajectory with a glittering Birthday Ball, a handsome hero looking for the owner of a lost shoe, and time ticking away on giant clocks. The character of the Fairy Godmother has been replaced by a Gypsy Fortune Teller (Fiona Kirk), She conjures up the coach which takes Cinderella to the Ball. The handsome Prince has now become the Lord Mayor’s Son (Bogdan Berezenko) who is captivated by the lithe Cinderella.
A crew of 22 international skaters, including Cape Town born Fiona Kirk, held the audience at the Teatro, Montecasino, spellbound with dazzling set pieces and precision skating.
Founded in 2003 by James Cundall, one of the leading producers of live entertainment in Asia and Australia, and Tony Mercer, one of the world’s foremost creators of contemporary theatre on ice, the Imperial Ice Stars are regarded as the world’s pre-eminent performers of “theatrical ice dance within the intimacy of the stage. Their productions have been acclaimed for their innovation and sophistication.
Cinderella on Ice displays the same high production values as its many predecessors and what we see on stage is something quite spectacular. The evocative Eamon D’arcy sets enchant, Albina Gabueva’s costumes are striking and beautiful and Mark Jonathan’s lighting designs are effective.
The performers work in perfect harmony, with stunning displays of individual skills, especially from the lead skaters who zoom around the artificial ice with elegance and style.
When Olga Sharutenko’s Cinderella and Bogdan Berezenko’s Lord Mayor’s Son come together, their partnership sizzles, creating a magical union of love and trust. There is an engaging moment two when aerial acrobatics take over and this inclusion fits snugly into the narrative thrust.
As noted in the programme, staging this story on ice injects far more drama into the proceedings because of the speed involved and the breathtaking manoeuvres that are executed. Despite the fact that there is no dialogue, the narrative is conveyed through the characterisations and movements of the skaters.
When the evil mother gets angry we all know about it.
The Imperial Ice Stars have continued to raise the bar with expensive and artistically challenging ice spectaculars and novel interpretations of timeless stories. Added to this is the challenge of creating new musical scores and in Cinderella on Ice the composers, Tim A Duncan and Edward James Barnwell, have surpassed themselves in approach and mix of styles.
Directed and choreographed by Tony Mercer, this production is the perfect start to the festive season and is recommended for the whole family.