From the moment the curtain rises and the ice-covered stage is filled with skaters travelling at break-neck speed, and performing the most amazing tricks, the audience realises that it is not just here to see an average ice show. Instead, it is about to witness something that can only be described as spectacular.
On a specially-created ice rink which utilises all the available space on the Congress Theatre’s sizeable stage, this magical fairy tale is brought to life by the extremely talented, Russian Ice Stars. They start to perform against a backdrop that depicts a library and it is through the clever use of a book, which is almost the entire width and height of the stage, that, as the pages are turned, new settings are created.
Veleria Vorobyeva plays the title character who, with the help of her Fairy Godmother Ekaterina Murugova, does go to the ball, as one would expect in this almost completely traditional version of the story. I say almost, as I don’t remember Prince Charming Valdis Mintals heading to Spain, Egypt and Russia to look for the owner of the “Glass ice skate”, but poetic licence is allowed when the resulting national dances are performed so well.
Of course, the show would not be the same without a pair of “ugly” stepsisters Viktoriya Shklover and Maria Mukhortova and the “wicked” stepmother who, in a stroke of casting genius, is played by Sergei Smirnov. He uses his additional height and strength to lift and spin the sisters whilst, at the same time, wearing the most elaborate dresses.
There are a couple of extra characters, who are not usually part of the tale, in the form of two court jesters Alexander Belokopytov and Ekaterina Belokopytova who not only provide some comedy antics on the ice, but also perform the most magnificent aerial ballets.
The thing that sticks out most with this company is that they are not constrained by the relatively small space available. Whether they are flying high above the ice, performing incredible tricks, or demonstrating amazing one-handed lifts, they give absolutely everything to ensure that the production is first rate. They even use a cleverly disguised trampoline to add extra height to their Russian split jumps and heart-stopping somersaults.
The recorded score for the piece is a selection of well known music by Tchaikovsky, Strauss and others, together with some less recognisable pieces. The soundtrack is, however, played just a little too loudly, but that seems to be mainly to cover the noise of the skates on the ice.
This show, if anything, is more than the sum of its parts. More impressive than most other ice shows, faster paced than most ballets, more exciting than some fairground rides and, as the audience demographic shows, appealing to all ages.