Phil Hopkins, Group Travel Editor & Theatre Correspondent

A Fairytale For Christmas - Cinderella

Northern Ballet’s Cinderella is like an exquisite box of chocolates, beautifully wrapped and almost too good to eat.

Considering this company gets just a fraction of the financial goodies doled out to the Royal Ballet, you would never know watching this elegant fairy tale, almost perfect in every detail.

This is the first revival of Artistic Director David Nixon’s production since its world premiere tour ended in 2014, giving a host of new dancers the opportunity to embody characters from this timeworn favourite.

Special mention must go to two of the oft unsung heroes: Lighting Designer (Tim Mitchell) and Set Designer, Duncan Hayler whose joint approach produced the most stunning backdrop against which Northern Ballet’s talented company were able to excel both creatively and technically.

Rachael Gillespie as Young Cinderella, set the standard at the outset, eventually passing the mantle to the equally talented Antoinette Brooks-Daw, who stepped into the role of ‘Older Cinders’ in a split-second theatrical transition.

In many ways it is an unforgiving part demanding so much: physicality and emotional stamina which, after two hours, must be draining. However, Brooks-Daw never wavered, staying tightly in character throughout whilst dancing like a diva!

This time, certain members of the cast had to get to grips with magic and specialist consultant Richard Pinner, produced some simple but highly effective tricks, enabling Ashley Dixon as The Magician, to maintain a wonderful air of mystique.

Choosing to ignore the more traditional ‘panto’ version of Cinderella, Nixon’s production is quite beautiful because the so-called ‘Ugly Sisters’ aren’t ugly at all! The production is set in Russia and the ugliness is all about the emotions and attitudes that people carry within.

Countess Serbrenska, Cinderella’s Step-Mother is elegant and almost visually perfect but a cruel ice-maiden inside. Minju Kang’s performance was enthralling and her expressions beautifully nuanced.

Sean Bates as Prince Mikhail
Sean Bates as Prince Mikhail
There may be a fairy tale ending but, at its heart, Cinderella tells the story of a lonely and neglected young woman desperate to be loved.

She finds that love in Prince Mikhail, aka Sean Bates, who has been with the company seven years and has matured into a wonderful soloist. I also think that Harris Beattie, as the young prince, is one to watch; a great, precise dancer.

A wonderful Christmas offering from Northern Ballet, this is a Cinderella that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster but leave you with that happy ending feeling and memories of having seen something special.

Cinderella, Northern Ballet
Leeds Grand Theatre
Until 2nd January