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Cinderella - Northern Ballet (Tour - Manchester)

Beautiful, engaging and a joy from start to finish - says Elise Gallagher of this rags to riches dance piece.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Palace Theatre opens its doors to the Northern Ballet's latest production Cinderella which perfectly promotes the company's technical and dramatic strengths to their absolute maximum.

Martha Leebolt as Cinderella
© Bill Cooper

Even if you are a first timer to the ballet, we are all familiar with the classic fairy tale of Cinderella, which is why it is the perfect choice for a production communicated solely through dance and music. Artistic director David Nixon draws from a Russian influence in order to create an imperial backdrop for his performance – creating the perfect winter wonderland for the mystical tale.

Going against tradition Nixon choses a magician as opposed to the iconic Fairy Godmother, Hironao Takahashi's performance is charming whilst, at the same time brings some light relief to the story. Whilst the majority of these twists are successful, such as the Russian setting, others felt a far cry away from the original fairy tale we all know and love.

The Prince is portrayed as a William Darcy-esque kind of character. When he goes to visit Cinderella's house, glass slipper in hand - he laughs in her face at the mere thought of someone so low casting her spell over him. This is the type of snobbery that leaves a few audience members confused and dissatisfied.

In terms of character, Jessica Morgan shines as the Wicked Step Mother; on pointed toes, she takes the stage and completely owns it – she is a flawless dancer who conveys a multitude of emotions with ease and dexterity.

The dancers perform with flying colours, gracefully captivating the entire audience. Keeping with the imperial Russian feel the magician turns the step-families' fur coats into huskies to take her to the ball. A surprise which delights both young and old alike. The narrative opens with the charming pair of Antoinette Brooks-Daw (young Cinderella) and Matthew Koon (young Prince) before switching impeccably into their older counterparts, and this runs like clock work.

The costumes are so good, they are almost characters themselves; whether it is the fur coats which the Step Mother and Sisters wear or the intricate lace of the ball members gowns – they perfectly emulate the traditional fairy tale, the fabric cascading and soaring with the dancers – is a spectacle in itself.

Most importantly Cinderella's gown is just as magical as imagined from the fairy tale but my only complaint would be that if she had transformed into the gown at the end of the production it would have magically cemented the essence of this classic story. The orchestra bring so much light and shade. it is hard to accept Manchester's reality outside the Palace's doors.

Cinderella's concluding dance leaves the entire theatre in complete awe of their performance. Martha Leebolt (Cinderella) and Tobias Batley (Prince Mikhail) cast a spell fit and the effect is mesmerising. Some audience members dab their eyes, and on the night I attended, received a well-deserved standing ovation.

Northern Ballet's Cinderella is beautiful, elegant and complete escapism from start to finish and it's at the Palace Theatre until 22 November.