Warm hearted tale glides along

Time moving on as midnight approaches

Cinderella on Ice

Lichfield Garrick

****

THIS must be every little girl's dream; probably the world's best loved fairy story told in a blend of ballet and ice skating by The Russian Ice Stars all on a rink not much bigger than the average living room!

All right, a bit bigger, 11.16 metres deep and 10.6 metres wide, taking up the whole of the Garrick's stage, which in theatre terms is a decent size but in ice skating ? That is ridiculously tiny when it comes to doing athletic jumps, spins and throws that are normally only seen on rinks the size of a small football pitch.

People sitting in the first few rows must have felt like ice hockey netminders at times as the skaters whipped around the tiny rink at speeds only the completely mad or supremely skillful would attempt and this collection of circus acts and former international competitive skaters have skill to burn.

But it is not just power skating with some spectacular lifts along with double and triple jumps and spinning throwsthere is also grace and elegance and great beauty about a production which produces a rather bland version of the story.

The ugly sisters and wicked stepmother are unfriendly rather than nasty to dear old cinders and the only hard edge to the tale comes when the clock strikes midnight and the Prince and Cinders are separated by sinister figures in black representing time.

The undoubted star is Cinders, skated by Valeria Vorobyeva, a member of the Russian National team who only retired from competitive skating in 2009. She skates with a beauty and grace whih is quite remarkable on such as small rink.

Her Prince is Valdis Mintals who skated with considerable success at the World and European Championships  with Viktoriya Shklover, who plays one of the ugly sisters along with Maria Mukhortova who is a European silver medallist and skated in the last Winter Olympics.

WORLD CHAMPION

Bringing some real grace is Ekaterina Murugova, wife of Mintals and a former world junior champion.

There are exciting moments from Buttons, Sergeil Slavnov and the master of ceremonies, Denis Balandin, another Winter Olympian, along with the court jesters Alexander and Ekaterina Belokopytova, a married couple who are both qualified aerial gymnasts from Moscow Circus College.

Yuri Kuprin, who plays the king, is another circus school graduate, with a degree in floor acrobatics who at 40 is one of the elder statesmen of the company. He didn't start skating until he was 20 and he brings his acrobatic skills on to the ice when a trampoline is introduced.

A small point – the costumes, by Joolz, on the whole were sleek and colourful and looked the part, except for the king who looked a little like Captain Pugwash, which made him stand out, as a king perhaps should, but not perhaps for those reasons. The design is interesting, set in a library with a giant fairy tale book of Cinderlla filling the back wall with pages turned to set new scenes.

We all know the story and the tradition shoe fitting scene produced some remarkable skill and balance when the wicked stepmother, Sergei Smirnov, another European Championship finalist, along with the two ugly sisters carried out some quite complex routines on just one skate – the other foot bare awaiting the royal shoefitters, or in this case, skatefitters.

Amid the skating and traditional story there is some gentle humour as well and a bit of shock, and a laugh, when the skate fits an ugly sister but we won't spoil that one.

This cross between ballet and ice show on a theatrical stage is a formulae which seems to work. I must admit my knowledge of the technicalities of ice skating is slightly less than my familiarity with mediaevil Polynesian midwifery but it looked classy, showed phenomenal skill and at times had a beauty all of its own with a mix of classical and more modern music. A thoroughly entertaining evening. To 13-04-13.

Roger Clarke

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