08 Oct 08 - Sunderland Echo, UK -

WHAT do you get when you mix Cirque du Soleil, Matthew Bourne's take on ballet, a load of ice and some of the world's finest skaters?

No this isn't a joke. This was in fact the inspiration for Imperial Ice Stars when it was formed in July 2004 as a joint venture between two of the world's top producers of live entertainment, James Cundall and Tony Mercer.

James said: "Imperial Ice Stars was set up about six years ago and became established as the top ice-skating company in the world.

"The reason we got our reputation so quickly was because we had our own way of trying to re-energise ice-skating.

"We looked at what Cirque to Soleil had done and what Matthew Bourne had done with ballet and decided to do something similar.

"They had both taken traditional things and revitalised them and that's exactly what we wanted to do.

"Cirque du Soleil took the circus and made it for adults. They re-energised it so it wasn't just the usual clowns and made it really sophisticated.

"Matthew Bourne did the same with traditional ballets like The Nut Cracker and Swan Lake.

"They have upgraded them and that's what we have done with skating."

To polish off the shows, James and Tony joined forces with businessman and former speed skater Vladislav Olenin and began to bag themselves some of the world's greatest skaters.

"What we find is amazing skaters from places like Russia and Ukraine come to us often when they've finished their competition life," James said.

"They're used to doing things like triple axles and we like to re-invent the moves they can do. We create a lot of moves that you can't see at say the Olympics."

The show-stopping spectacular doesn't just stop there because this team of top creators like to wow their audience with a whole host of special effects including rain, fire and some tricks.

Imperial Ice Skaters productions, which include Swan Lake on Ice and Sleeping Beauty on Ice, have already been enjoyed by more than two million people across the globe.

Now Cinderella on Ice, which had its world premiere in New Zealand in July, is travelling the globe with its European premiere in Sunderland later this month.

James is also quick to point out that although Cinderella is a fairy tale that is told to children, his take on the popular tale is created for adults to bring their children along to.

"We've taken the Cinderella story and slightly adapted it so it becomes an adult show for children," he said.

"The Prince becomes the Lord Mayor and Cinderella and her sisters are ballet dancers. It's still the same premise, but a bit more punchy.

"Cinderella was actually written in Italian by either the Egyptians or the Chinese and there have been about 300 different tellings of it, so we are just adding to that.

"This is a great all-round show that you can bring your friends, family, partner, kids or grandparents too, and with the credit crunch in full swing, this definitely gives value for money."

Cinderella on Ice is at the Sunderland Empire from October 28 to November 1. Tickets are £11 to £28.50 and can be bought by phoning the Box Office on 0844 8472499 or by logging on to
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Upcoming show dates

 Peter Pan on Ice