Cinderella gets her dancing shoes on in a show that’s perfect for children

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Storytime Ballet: Cinderella ★★★★
The Australian Ballet, Arts Centre Melbourne, until 17 December

It’s an early Christmas treat for teeny-tiny bunheads. The Australian Ballet has torn the wrappings off a colourful new hour-long version of Cinderella with excerpts from Prokofiev’s ravishing score.

Put together by David McAllister, this is a rather winsome fairy-tale fantasy that nimbly balances classical choreography, over-the-top clowning, stage magic and the usual pantomime business.

Kit Thompson in The Australian Ballet’s Cinderella.Credit: Kate Longley

Nicole Moshidis was Cinders – or Ella, as she’s dubbed here – on Wednesday evening and danced with attractive sincerity. Jeremy Hargreaves was her prince. Their pas de deux is brief but very dreamy and slow.

The jesters of the piece, the mean-spirited stepsisters, were performed by Chantelle van der Hoek and Sophie Wormald. They pout and flounce and tumble about to the delight of all. Kit Thompson was more poised as the scheming stepmother.

Elena Salerno was the Fairy Godmother and Corey Gavan the dancing master. Sean McGrath reprises his role as Storytime narrator. Four courtiers make up the rest of the fine ensemble.

Elena Salerno, Sophie Donald and Myah Gadd in a performance of Cinderella.Credit: Kate Longley

There are some pretty nifty bits of theatrical hocus-pocus. The moment when Cinderella’s rags are turned into a sparkling blue gown is particularly impressive. How do they do it? Blink and you’ll miss the whole thing.

As with the holiday version of Sleeping Beauty in January of this year, there are ticky-tacky battery-powered wands for sale in the foyer, which McGrath spruiks during the performance. These junk items are now all but ubiquitous at events for kids.

The opening-night audience was vocal in its admiration of the set and its transformations. Ishan Vivekanantham’s designs, particularly for the ballroom, are simple but splendid. It’s amazing what you can do with fairy lights.

Overall, this is a charming – albeit very traditional – pocket-sized version of the story. The show has a short season but with three shows a day. there are plenty of times to choose from.
Reviewed by Andrew Fuhrmann

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