Ice-skating champs in ‘Cinderella’

2010-01-14 00:00


Cinderella on Ice

Teatro Montecasino, Johannesburg

IF you’ve ever watched any ice-skating — either live or on television — then you’ll know that the rink offers performers plenty of space to do their intricate jumps, lifts and spins. Imagine then the control it takes to reproduce those complex moves on a piece of ice the size of a normal ­theatre stage.

That’s precisely what the Imperial Ice Stars manage to pull off in ­Cinderella on Ice, which played to packed houses at the Teatro Montecasino in Johannesburg and is now at Artscape Opera, Cape Town, until February 7.

I was invited to attend one of the Johannesburg shows by Scotts Tours, which hosts theatre tours to allow midlands residents to see shows such as The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Cats.

Presented by Pieter Toerien Productions, Cinderella on Ice follows in the successful footsteps of Swan Lake on Ice. But it certainly isn’t a Disney version of this classic fairytale.

Instead, the 23-strong cast of ­Olympic, world, national and European championship skaters, gave the audience a more interesting story. In their interpretation, the heroine is a young ballet dancer, whose father is a watchmaker. The step-mother and step-sisters are there, but there is no fairy godmother. Instead, a mysterious gypsy fortuneteller helps Cinderella. And there is no Prince Charming. Cinderella’s beau is instead the son of the town’s Lord Mayor.

The pair meet when Cinderella replaces one of her step-sisters in the role of Odette in the ballet Swan Lake, which is being staged in honour of the young man’s return to the town. The pair fall in love at first sight but as in all good romances, their path to happiness is full of lumps and bumps.

The storytelling is amazing and the skating prowess of the performers astounding. There are also two beautiful flying sequences in the show featuring Cinderella (Olga Sharutenko) and the mayor’s son (Andrei Penkine). The second one was especially impressive as Penkine actually holds on to Sharutenko’s wire harness and together they fly above the stage.

But even though I thought their performances were wonderful, my favourite characters were Cinderella’s father (Vadim Yarkov) and the Dressmaker (Andrei Bannikov). Their skating ability is astonishing — at one point Bannikov spins a fellow cast member on his head — but, more importantly, they engage you throughout the show.

Cinderella on Ice truly is the hottest show on ice. If you’re headed to Cape Town anytime soon, then I highly recommend you see it. Tickets can be booked at Computicket.

Scotts Tours will offer midlands theatregoers a package to see the musical, Grease, at the Teatro Montecasino on May 8 and 9. Inquiries: 033 343 4022 or 033 343 2932.

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