On point: Vienna Festival Ballet brings Cinderella to Kenneth More Theatre
- Credit: Archant
An old favourite is returning to Ilford hoping to win new ballet fans with the much-loved tale of a serving girl and her glass slipper.
The Vienna Festival Ballet’s (VFB)Cinderella, which comes to the Kenneth More Theatre in April, blends classic ballet and pantomime with lavish scenery and specially arranged music.
Gill Mallek, one of VFB’s directors and a former dancer with the company, said: “It’s a fun performance, there’s something for everybody. The music is incredible and there’s a lot happening on stage.”
Despite its name, the Vienna Festival Ballet is a UK-based company founded in 1980 by Gill’s husband and celebrated Austrian dancer Peter Mallek with the aim of bringing live ballet to audiences which would not normally be able to see it.
This commitment is shown by the company’s demanding 74-date UK tour, during which the cast don’t even get a rest once the curtain comes down.
Afterwards, the dancers come out in costume to chat with the audience and try to build bigger audiences for ballet.
“It’s about survival. If we want to continue as a company, we have to get the audiences in,” Gill told the Recorder.
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The company is also known for using top young dancers.
Cinderella will be played by up-and-coming Italian Sofia Masi, 20, who played the leading role in last season’s production Snow White.
But there’s plenty of talent in other roles as well. The prince is played by Dean Rushton, once called Ealing’s Billy Elliot, while the dancers playing the mice and Cinderella’s cat must perform while wearing oversized model animal heads – a hit with younger audience members.
“It’s extremely daring. I have no idea how the dancers do it, but the children love it and it adds to the whole performance,” said Gill.
The production is very much the company’s own. Along with the hand-painted backcloths that provide the scenery, the music bears the VFB stamp as well.
Most productions of Cinderella use a score by Prokofiev, which was written for ballet. However, VFB’s choreographer Sheila Styles, formerly of the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, sat down with musical director Chris Nicholls to arrange music by Rossini.
They mixed together highlights from his many operas, including his own version of Cinderella, La Cenerentola.
“We wanted to do something different. You always see Cinderella by Prokofiev, but Sheila was totally inspired by Rossini,” said Gill.
The resulting score was then specially recorded by Slovakia’s State Philharmonic Orchestra in Kosice, giving the production its unique soundtrack.
Vienna Festival Ballet’s Cinderella will be at the Kenneth More Theatre on April 7, from 7.30pm. Tickets are £20 for adults, £18 for concessions, £15 for children. To book, visit kmtheatre.co.uk or call 0208 553 4466.