Sugar and spice and with a touch of vice, that’s what regular fairy tales are made of. Add aerial flights and daredevils on ice, that’s what Cinderella on Ice is made of.
Yes indeed, The Imperial Ice Stars are back in town with another delightfully snow-frosted fairly tale. This time they have reworked the classic story of the downtrodden maiden with the heart of gold. She falls for the handsome noble and he for her, despite every effort by her stepmother and stepsisters to thwart their true love. Resolution hinges on reuniting Cinderella with her glass slipper (or in this case a sparkly skating boot), and thus, her man.
The Ice Stars bring everything we have come to expect from them since they first thrilled South African audiences back in 2011. There is drama, theatre, glittering costumes, magic, and above all, world-class skating. Ice dance is such an exciting medium – the pace and grace of it is a heady combination. Then the exhilaration is ramped up further when the skaters start twirling at top speed and perform increasingly daring lifts. You won’t see anything else quite like it on stage.
And yet there is always something new. Rather than using Prokofiev’s well-known 1940s score, director Tony Mercer commissioned Tim Duncan to compose a brand new one, more suited to ice dance. Previously we’ve seen fire and snow, but this time we had rain. And whether or not it did, the liquid water it produced appeared to inflict an added danger to an already slippery stage.
There is more jeopardy yet when Cinderella loses her skating boot and has to skate on one foot. As all the eligible young ladies line up to try on the boot, they do the same. Surely their balance would be affected, I thought, yet they glide on one foot just as effortlessly as they would on two. And without any concern that a foot is bared to the elements and vulnerable to sharp skate blades.
Previous productions have had deliciously evil villains. But although Cinderella’s stepmother is manipulative and unpleasant, she is mean rather than frightening. This doesn’t at all detract from the show, and perhaps ensures that younger audience members go home to sugar plum dreams rather than tricky nightmares.
Drama is instead provided in an excellent scene called ‘The clock strikes thirteen’ where, as time is running out for Cinderella’s happily ever after, skaters representing the hours portray the urgent ticking of a clock. They are accompanied by some breathtaking aerial lifts performed by husband and wife team and Ice Stars stalwarts, Fiona Kirk and Volodymyr Khodakivskyy. In addition to Kirk and Volodymyr, lead Olga Sharuntenko is back to wow us again accompanied by a thoroughly pedigreed cast of top-drawer skaters.
There is a magical fairy lit coach, a fortune teller with a light-up crystal ball, and only the Grinch that stole Christmas could fail to smile when Cinderella becomes airborne and twirls and glitters above the stage. Don’t be like the Grinch, go and watch Cinderella on Ice – brilliant, breathtaking and sprinkled with fairy dust.
Cinderella on Ice is on at Montecasino’s Teatro until 6 January 2018.