Who Needs Words: Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella at Wales Millennium Centre.

A lady in a long white ballgown sat at a table with drinks.
*Thanks to WMC for tickets. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.

Yesterday George and I had a full on adventure in Cardiff, from daytime theatre to just having a meal to ourselves, we had so much fun. In the evening we headed to Cardiff Bay to see Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella at Wales Millennium Centre. I was really excited to see the performance and I think George just loved being part of a special day out ending with a beautiful performance of Cinderella.

I have been waiting a very long time to catch a Matthew Bourne production, and I will say straight away, I was not disappointed! From the very start I was hooked, and it’s safe to say this is a ballet performance perfect to draw in many people, from all walks of life.

Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella is set during World War 2 (WW2), with pilot Harry (Will Bozier) and Cinderella (Ashley Shaw) falling in love in between the horrors of war itself. They are brought together by an Angel, but they have many trials and tribulations to conquer before they can truly be together.

The stage was set with a Tim Burton-esque style, and I couldn’t help but think of Beetlejuice during the first act. The darkly delicious monochrome costumes, slanted fire and general sense of foreboding really appealed to me (yes, I’m a bit dark at times!). I thought the stage was truly out of this world, each act offering rich layers of the story in the form of stage, set and glorious costume. It was probably the most detailed set I’ve seen in a while, and during the scene where the bomb hits the club I couldn’t help but think of the chandelier scene in Phantom of the Opera; it was an awesome moment and I felt goosebumps creep across my skin as the scene unfolded.

The story was perfectly told, with each act including all the important details needed to tell the tale of Cinderella; the performance certainly didn’t need words to express feeling, sentiment and story. I also thought the backdrop of WW2 was perfectly integrated into the tale, with the darkness and light of war perfectly fitting for two people to fall in love. I also felt that the setting offered the hope and love destined for the couple, once the battle of WW2 was over, and at the end of the production we see the Angel move on to his next ‘victim’ of love; this was a magical moment and a perfect way to end the story (because it never truly ends!).

George was completely mesmerised with the ‘Fairy God Father’; the Angel was performed by Liam Mower and he had
such grace and intrigue as he glided across the stage, determined to
reunite Cinderella and Harry. George was excited to see this role
transformed from a woman to a man, and rightly so… I also adored the inclusion of same sex relationships, as well as the odd crude gesture (so subtle George didn’t notice but I could have a little laugh to myself along the way!).

We both adored the drunken scene, watching the performers dance; they were amazing and really funny yet extremely professional. The choreography was absolutely stunning, and each detail was perfectly put into place. I thought Sybil, The Step-Mother (Anjali Mehhra) was outstanding; she really stood out to me as a strong, professional and mesmerising performer. She threw herself into the part, and some of her interactions were dark, evil and often quite humorous.

A group of people drinking, with part hats, and a man and woman kissing.

As for Cinderella and Harry, well they were both enchanting performers, especially amidst the bleak and gritty backdrop of WW2. I think they had a strong chemistry, and both gave such elegant and powerful performances. I felt Harry was painfully bereft and incredibly angry, whilst Cinderella seemed extremely devoid of hope. Both performers were seamless within the performance and there were times when their timing and grace blew me away.

The only area I felt would have given me just that little bit more, was the sentiment. I feel the performance had the potential to make me sob, but the tears didn’t come. It kind of veered from upbeat to downtrodden, but for me it was missing the true depths of love and romance. Cinderella and Harry were lost, angry and sad at times, but I think it could have verged into the realms of romance and heartbreak just a little bit more…

I have to mention the gorgeous scene between Cinderella and the tailor’s dummy; this was like a scene from a classic musical and a lot of the dance routines reminded me of Gene Kelly films. Cinderella moved around the stage with such grace, and her interaction with the male ‘dummy’ was beautifully presented. I loved how the dummy transformed into a man, yet retained the behaviour of a mannequin; he was one talented performer! 

Three men dressed in army attire dancing at a club.

I wasn’t sure how George would cope during the performance, mostly
because he nods off around 9pm most evenings. However, instead of
falling asleep, George became engaged with the show, and instead of
having a snoozing boy next to me, I had one who kept asking questions!
Yes, I know for other people this can be annoying, but I was just so
happy he was interested, engaged and digging around for more
information. I for one do not mind when other children whisper during
performances, because that’s how they learn, and it shows a massive
interest in the arts; these are both things I fully support.

When the show ended, we obviously gave a standing ovation, because it was such a beautiful performance. Afterwards George dragged me to the stage to collect confetti and whilst waited for Warren to pick us up, we had our own little dance outside WMC!

We had such a lovely experience, and if you’re keen to dabble in the world of ballet then this is a must-see show for you. As for all you Matthew Bourne fans, I’m joining your club, because you have impeccable taste. 

Have you seen Cinderella yet? What did you think? 

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