Cinderella on Ice - Edinburgh Playhouse

21 Jan 09 - The Scotsman -

CUTTING smoothly through their reworking of the Cinderella story, The Imperial Ice Stars might take their time to build up to it but they eventually achieve a truly spectacular piece of entertainment.

The opening scene is relatively conventional looking back through the gauze of time to see Cinderella’s happy home life come to an end with the death of her mother.

But it’s the rest of the story which takes a great spinning triple leap into the

unknown. Fortunately, it is light enough on its feet to end up facing the way it is travelling, but there is enough that is unusual about the plot to confuse the unwary.

For starters, there’s no fireplace to sleep in for Cinders, or Buttons to be her pal.Dad is a watchmaker, the wicked stepmother is the local ballet mistress and the vile stepsisters are arrogant little ballerinas who get preferred for the big roles when the prince figure actually the mayor’s son comes to see a production of Swan Lake.

The fairy godmother figure is transformed into a fortune-teller who, confusingly for anyone looking for a higher moral to the tale, is at odds with Cinderella’s father. And the Dandini role belongs to the town’s dressmaker.

If the plot is a tad confusing, particularly the intrusion of the Swan Lake ballet

complete with music, the performances most certainly are not. These ice-skaters know how to put emotion and character into their moves, as well as making the most difficult lifts and turns on the tight skating stage seem easy enough to emulate.

They are helped by the way that director and choreographer Tony Mercer keeps a good balance between telling a story and stringing a series of moves together. So, for the most part, the jumps, lifts and set-piece moves are all built into the story.

Fortunately, the company’s request to rework Prokofiev’s Cinderella ballet music for the ice was turned down. Instead, this is accompanied by a musical score which, while it might be lush and anodyne by comparison, at least fits with the rhythm of the skating movements.

It is in Act Two that this really begins to go to town you can’t go far wrong with a ball sequence. It allows the choreography to let rip, for no other reason than it wants to. So it is that a tap-style move, reminiscent of Riverdance no less, creeps into the show, and one skater even does a series of flic-flacs across the ice.

If the best is reserved for the big love scene of the finale, when the choreography literally takes off, this is eminently watchable all the way through whether you’re a skating fan or simply want a spectacular night out.

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Upcoming show dates

 Peter Pan on Ice