If this is Cinderella, where are the raggedy dress and the dirty fireplace? The mice and the pumpkins? And which of those athletic young men is actually Prince Charming?
Then you stop worrying about such pedantics and just let yourself be carried away by the mesmerising spectacle of brilliant Russian ice skaters performing dazzling acrobatics.
The story weaves along somewhere in the background, but in the foreground we’re enjoying incredible choreography that’s bound to make every kid in the audience nag mum and dad for ice skating lessons. Pay for them – I was proud of all these dancers even though they’re all total strangers.
You’d expect ice dancing to get repetitive after the first few scenes, yet the second half was even better than the first, with ever-more spectacular twists and turns. Now you hardly dare to blink, in case you miss a particularly thrilling leap or pirouette.
Olga Sharutenko as Cinderella and Andrei Penkine as her suitor are deservedly the stars of the show, and utterly spellbinding. Yet the rest of the cast are each jockeying to outdo them by displaying their talents for leaping, soaring and spinning.
There are enough elements of the original Cinderella storyline to let you keep pace with the plot, but a quick squizz at the programme helps to make more sense of it all. Especially if you start wondering why the music suddenly changes so you’re inexplicably watching Swan Lake for a while. Or you can just go with the flow, and admire the drama and the dance in its own right.
The Swan Lake scenes clarified what was bugging me about the music. The score has been written specifically for ice dancers, rather than for ballet dancers, and it’s all been pre-recorded. It’s also instantly forgettable, with none of the stirring crescendos or heart-rending sadness of the old ballet classics.
The setting, in comparison, is highly memorable. The ice stage itself seems fearfully small for the exuberance of the dancing, and surrounded by sturdy looking backdrops of a picturesque village.
The colourful costumes are over-the top gorgeous, including some bling-bling ice skates. That’s all part of the humour that makes the show so delightful as well as so professional. The skaters dance with comedy as well as class, melting the arrogant frostiness that has permeated previous shows by the Imperial Ice Stars.
This is a funny, fabulous show that should be on everybody’s Christmas wish list.
Cinderella on Ice runs at Montecasino’s Teatro until Sunday, 10th January 2010.
Review by Lesley Stones