Cinderella on Ice is awe-inspiring

07 Dec 09 - What's on Stage - South Africa -

This is like nothing you have ever witnessed before.

The problem with a review on this cross between theatre, ice dancing, extreme sport, Irish and Russian traditional dancing and figure skating is that it is impossible to describe its magic and allure in words. Nothing can prepare you for what you're going to experience and no amount of raving or breathless recommendation can indicate the sense of wonder you'll feel during the production.

Many people, who have not seen an ice skating production, have the same complaint as they walk past the poster: "Oh, it looks too dainty for me," or: "my wife and kids want to go, but I can't imagine myself sitting through two hours of ballet on ice. What's to like?"

If you are guilty of those misconceptions, read on, because this production is like nothing you have ever witnessed before. The production consists of a troupe of acrobatic dancers/ice skating artists/acrobats who have managed to transform the millennium-old tale of Cinderella into an experience that will leave you breathless. The artists move so fast at times, that the eye can't manage to properly follow their swift movements. They twirl around, rotate at breathtaking speeds, pirouette, glide through the air, glide with the speed of lightning and whirl across the ice like ricocheting bullets. It has to be seen to be believed that human beings are actually capable of performing these tricks on ice.

It's like witnessing a new version of Cirque du Soleil - it captures dazzling acrobatic tricks and perplexing movements as it reinvents this classic tale with such astounding allure that it will leave you breathless. The ensemble enchants the audience as they move across the ice with deceptive ease which may inspire many kids to take up ice skating, as I heard a youngster begging her mother. So parents, beware! The kids may nag you for ice skating lessons after this production!

The sets are inspiring and vivid, the lighting atmospheric and the vibrant tricks played on the eye overwhelming. The director has managed not only to reflect the wonders of falling in love, but also in capturing the darkness and drama of the Cinderella tale. There is barely a moment to catch your breath, so especially kids, even those with ADT, may watch in awe as the production surprises and stuns with every new scene. From a glittering human coach ready to whisk Cinderella away to lovers frolicking through the air to rejoice in their love, to a dance in the rain, to the genial clockwork-dancers who count down the minutes to midnight, the audience stays fascinated. Those dancing, black clockworks, especially thirteen o' clock, resemble an Ingmar Bergman film reinvented on ice. It is awe-inspiring.

It is difficult to single out an artist as they all contribute to the excellence and brilliance of this show, but mention must be made of Olena Pyatash as the wicked stepmother who dominates her scenes as she almost hijacks every scene she's in (the stepmom has never been so razor-thin or sexy in the tales I read as a kid!) to Vadim Yarkov as the watchmaker and Olga Sharutenko as Cinderella, not forgetting Andre Penkine - every member of the troupe contributes to make this an unforgettable experience.

So if you're one of the dissident voices who thinks that you are going to see a long, cute (read boring) and predictable ballet on ice, think again. This production will exceed even your wildest dreams. It will enchant, captivate, overwhelm and hypnotise you. It is like nothing you have ever experienced before. See it at all costs and take the entire family along. It will make you drift out of the theatre in a state of enchantment.

  • Cinderella on Ice
  • With the Imperial Ice Stars Ensemble from Russia
  • Directed by Tony Mercer
  • At the Teatro Montcasino till 10 January 2010

Leon van Nierop is one of South Africa's best-known and most respected film critics. He has reviewed films for 34 years for every medium; from television and radio to magazines, newspapers and the Internet. He has lectured on film criticism for 14 years throughout the country and headed the TUT film school in Pretoria for 4 years. He has also written two books on film analysis, the most recent being Movies Made Easy published by van Schaiks. He has also served as judge for several short film and film competitions, is part of the SAFTA jury awarding Golden Horns to the best local film talent, and writes extensively on film for several publications. He also served as professor in film at TUT and also headed that film school for 4 years. He has just completed a stint as presenter, scriptwriter, voice-over artist and co-producer for DEKAT on SABC 3. He has written 23 novels and several TV-series and dramas and is currently working on another novel. He is also a newsreader and continuity presenter for RSG on SABC radio and serves as their major film critic.

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