Venue: The Lowry
Where: Salford

The Nutcracker
has a seasonal rival in David Bintley’s new £1 million production of Cinderella by the Birmingham Royal Ballet.  The screen version shown on BBC2 on Christmas Day is as nothing compared with its theatrical counterpart.

The deceptively clumsy ugly sisters especially when vying for the prince’s attention, Skinny (Gaylene Cummerfield) and Dumpy, a tummy loving well-padded Carol-Anne Millar, steal the show. Although there is much more to recommend here also.

The ballet opens with the funeral of Cinderella’s mother and we share her subsequent suffering at the hands of her sinister stepmother (Marion Tait) and her daughters until the entry of a fairy godmother, (a kind-hearted Victoria Marr) who creates a magical coach.

On the night I attended, Elisha Willis danced the title role and she excel in solos and her pas de deux with the prince, Iain Mackay, aided by the beauty of Prokofiev’s music played by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia. Her facial expressions reflect emotional depth and her arrival at the ball down five steps en pointe is unforgettable.

This is the first time David Bintley has collaborated with designer John MacFarlane and lighting designer [David Finn.   MacFarlane’s huge mechanical clock marking the time until midnight, is impressive and Finn’s lighting adds to the magic of the Fairy Godmother’s appearance.

In a ballet within a ballet, the four seasons are danced delicately by Momoko Hirata, Lei Zhao, Angela Paul and Laetitia Lo Sardo.

If I could,  I would give this ballet six stars for its choreography and impact as it's superb. One minor quibble though, why doesn’t Cinders wear her sparkly shoes at the ball?

- Julia Taylor