Cinderella at the Ahmanson
February 14, 2019
On opening night, British director and choreographer Matthew Bourne put his spin on the classic fairy tale, Cinderella, which took the stage at the Ahmanson Theatre.
Bourne's reworking, and score by Sergei Prokofiev, has the story set in World War II where Cinderella creates a wartime romance with a dashing young RAF pilot (her prince).
The performance is divided into three Acts...the first being a frenetic London Blitz which has Cinderella and her family chaotically swirling around in a "tornado" that is ripping through the fabric of their lives, nearly destroying everybody in its path. The contemporary dancing and music was quite intense, almost too overwhelming to the senses at times, but creative.
The only semblance of traditional ballet occurs in Act 2. If you are expecting more of this style of ballet, you will feel let down.
In this version, the fairy godmother is actually a male protector (Liam Mower). One might call him a guardian angel. The dance duets with Cinderella (Ashley Shaw) are superbly done, and phantasmagorical.
Madelaine Brennan was cast very well as the stepmother who has a serious problem with drinking and a homicidal personality. And of course, there are wicked stepsisters and mean stepbrothers in a highly dysfunctional family setting.
And Bourne also incorporated the lost slipper, as well as the sparkling ball in this dark dramedy.
He also went multi-media, using documentary films of the London Blitz in the background. The Blitz showing people being violently massacred.
Lez Brotherston was brilliant with his set designs and costumes, especially Mower's. Kudos also go out to Neil Austin, the lighting designer.
Cinderella and her prince danced very well together and displayed a believable sense of mutual affection. And Shaw looked gorgeous and dignified in her formal dress. An incredible metamorphosis.
The one thing that was missing was a live orchestra, but Bourne does a good job with sound and special effects. Especially bomber planes flying overhead. One actually thought the planes were going to crash into the theatre.
Overall, it was a transcendent experience.
When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays, through March 10
Where: Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles
Info: (213) 628-2772, centertheatregroup.org
Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes (with two intermissions)