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BWW Review: CINDERELLA IN-THE-ROUND, Royal Albert Hall

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BWW Review: CINDERELLA IN-THE-ROUND, Royal Albert Hall

BWW Review: CINDERELLA IN-THE-ROUND, Royal Albert HallThere were few greater joys in dance in 2019 than English National Ballet's Cinderella-in-the-round, which played to full auditoriums for 10 days last summer in London. After recent events, it already feels like a lifetime ago, so it's a particular treat to relive it now, as the last of their series of Watch Parties.

Prokofiev's vivid score perfectly captures the underlying menace of the story and the uncertainty and worry many will have felt in lockdown, which makes this an emotive, giddy watch. From the sadness of the opening scenes featuring Cinderella's mother, to the slapstick comedy of the two troublesome stepsisters and Tamara Rojo's outrageously charismatic performance as Cinderella's stepmother, there is a full spectrum of well-imagined characters to enjoy.

Alina Cojocaru embodies Cinderella, cutting such a small figure on the expansive Albert Hall stage. From the outside she is vulnerable, but she courageously tolerates the mean treatment at the hands of her step-family, making her an easy heroine to root for.

Naturally, with a recording, there's an opportunity to notice little details one misses when in an auditorium. The scene in which the two stepsister's pull off some clumsy dancing in an attempt to impress who they believe to be the Prince is still a well-timed joy. However, it is Jeffrey Cirio's hilarious characterisation as Benjamin, a friend of the Prince, as he is interrogated by the stepmother, and his faux delight at the sisters' cumbersome display that is a masterclass, as he reacts to every movement and gesture of the self-absorbed pair.

The Prince himself, Isaac Hernandez, does not have much to do in Wheeldon's production until the well-crafted moment of meeting Cinderella at the ball - Natasha Katz's magical and bright lighting adding extra atmosphere - but his virtuoso jumps and leaps across the vast stage don't fail to please when they do arrive. Later, he is a tender partner in the first pas de deux, evidently enchanted by his ethereal Cinderella.

Julian Crouch's colourful and regal costuming is another highlight of the production. The Act II ball scene is an end-to-end blockbuster, but enhanced further by the rich royal blues of the partygoers' attire, as they sway rhythmically to the ticking clock.

Not forgetting the dances denoting the change of seasons, which see the stage flooded with blazing colour. The billowing net skirts, blonde wigs and glittering make-up are reminiscent of a modern Nutcracker scene in the Kingdom of Sweets - just magical.

Simply, the biggest compliment I can give this Cinderella is that I've watched it twice in 48 hours. You still have until this evening to drink it all in...

Cinderella is available on YouTube until the evening of 10 July

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