Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures brings his wartime revival of Cinderella to Milton Keynes this month.
Dance devotees can look forward to a dark reimagining of a classic fairy tale when the admired choreographer’s popular company makes its annual visit to Milton Keynes Theatre.
Set in London during the Second World War, Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella is a radical retelling that does not involve a prince, a fairy godmother or a royal ball. Instead, his evocative dance theatre production sees a wounded RAF pilot enjoy a chance encounter with a timid young woman. The couple spend just enough time together to fall head over heels in love before being parted by the horrors of the Blitz.
Never one to follow convention, Bourne replaces the familiar fairy godmother with a mysterious male figure – a silver-suited angel.
Meanwhile, the location in which the transformed Cinderella and her ‘prince’ get together is the sumptuous Café de Paris nightclub, rather than a royal ball. The couple’s romantic rendezvous is then cut short when the venue is bombed by a German air raid, just as it tragically was for real in 1941.
Amid the chaos, as figures in gas masks emerge from clouds of dust and sirens wail, the dashing pilot finds himself searching all over London for the pretty girl who has misplaced her slipper.
Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella follows hot on the heels of his double Olivier Award-winning The Red Shoes, which dazzled dance fans on tour last year. Dancers Ashley Shaw and Cordelia Braithwaite both triumphed playing ballerina Victoria Page in The Red Shoes and are now leading the cast for Cinderella, alternating the title role.
The production premiered in the West End in 1997, was heavily reworked in 2010 and has been revived to round off New Adventures’ 30th anniversary celebrations. It features sumptuous, Olivier Award-winning costumes and sets by Bourne’s regular collaborator, designer Lez Brotherston.
The character-driven dance action and vivid storytelling is set to Prokofiev’s glorious ballet score, which was written around the time of the Second World War. Theatregoers can look forward to experiencing the jubilant and involving melodies in rich and reverberating surround sound, thanks to a specially commissioned recording played by a 60-piece orchestra.
With a wartime romance at its heart, Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella promises to be the perfect Valentine’s treat.
The cast for Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella is led by Cordelia Braithwaite and Ashley Shaw alternating the title role. Both dancers triumphed playing ballerina Victoria Page in The Red Shoes, so audiences should expect to be impressed by their portrayals of Cinderella.
Cinderella’s heroic pilot, Harry, will be performed by Will Bozier, Andrew Monaghan and Dominic North.
‘The Angel’ (Cinderella’s ‘Fairy Godfather’) will be danced by Paris Fitzpatrick and Liam Mower.
‘Sybil’, Cinderella’s Step Mother is performed by Madelaine Brennan and Anjali Mehra, while Alan Vincent and Dan Wright take on the role of ‘Robert’, Cinderella’s Father.
Cinderella’s Step Brothers and Sisters and the people of 1940s London complete the cast: Steph Billers; João Carolino; Reece Causton; Jackson Fisch; Glenn Graham; Sophia Hurdley; Jack Jones; Nicole Kabera; Kate Lyons; Jamie McDonald; Stephen Murray (Former Central School of Ballet/New Adventures Student Associate), Danny Reubens; Katie Webb and Seren Williams.
Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella visits Milton Keynes Theatre from Tuesday 13 to Saturday 17 February 2018.
I wrote previews for:
Update 15 February 2018: Read my review of Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella.
Georgina Butler is an editor, a dance writer and a ballet teacher.