It’s a story that needs no introduction, the classic fairytale of rags to riches and unjust oppression to triumphant reward. This glittering production by Birmingham Royal Ballet closely follows the traditional story that is known and cherished the world over – with all of the familiar characters: the wicked stepmother, ugly sisters, fairy godmother and, of course, the slipper. The addition of a short prologue showing Cinderella and her father at her mother’s graveside opens the story and introduces the wicked stepmother as the dominant force in the family. The music is the complete original score by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev which premiered in 1945 at the Bolshoi in Moscow but the choreography, by company director David Bintley, was created for this version.

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Momoko Hirata is an enchanting Cinderella and Marion Tait is a commanding presence as the wicked stepmother. Our favourite characters were, without doubt, the ugly sisters Skinny and Dumpy, played by Samara Downs and Laura Purkiss. In a break from a trend in recent years to cast two men as the ugly sisters, David Bintley has returned to the original idea of having two ballerinas that are ‘ugly on the inside’. Skinny and Dumpy are a comical addition to the tale and provide some real laugh out loud moments.


“I’m wordless”, Nina mouthed to me when I asked in the interval what she thought of the first act. She’d confused her words and meant speechless of course, but I understood exactly how she felt. She was completely swept away by the magic of the production, the exquisite live music, costumes and impactful sets that have so much space to breathe on a stage as large as that of the Sunderland Empire. A few of the most memorable scenes featured a giant ticking clock, a star spangled sky with a rising moon and Cinderella’s cold, stark kitchen lit so expertly you could imagine the time of day from the glow of the light coming through the window. I watched Nina’s mouth fall open when the magnificent coach arrived to take Cinderella to the ball, her eyes wide and locked on the stage. And when a dozen ballerinas dressed as twinkling stars glittered their way onto the stage words failed her again. She could only liken them to dancing Ferrero Rochers – praise indeed as these are the most glamorous of all confections in her eyes! Pure, indulgent entertainment.


The comfortable familiarity of the storyline makes this production a fantastic introduction to ballet for families or anyone who has felt unsure about venturing into the world of pointe shoes tutus! That said, it is a production that will be just as popular with the more technically-minded too. Comprising three acts, the total running time is two and a half hours but two intervals, a very lively pace and sublime entertainment keep even the most wriggly little luxes enthralled and still in their seats.


You’ll need to grab your tickets quickly if you’re not already booked as Cinderella is here for just three days – Thursday 16 until Saturday 18 March.