A Sleeping Beauty that won't leave you cold
Sleeping Beauty on Ice - The Imperial Ice Stars
St James Theatre, Wellington until July 5
Wake up Wellington! This is a Sleeping Beauty for the 21st century and you'd be mad to miss it. The imperial Ice Stars production under the direction/choreography of Tony Mercer gives us a modern take on the traditional fairytale. Gone are the fairies and the spindles, no one falls asleep for a 100 years, Carabosse is no old crone and the royal wedding is exactly that, not a Royal Variety Show. And while there will always be audiences for the traditional version of this story, it is totally refreshing to see such a different take on it and one that actually makes sense and works.
At the infant Princess Aurora's christening, instead of six fairies presenting her with gifts, here there are her six sisters, the strongest and most protective being Princess Lilac.
There is far greater emphasis given here to the Witch Carabosse. The scenes in the forest where Carabosse (Yahor Maistrou) and his minions dabble in dark magic are truly creepy, and the use of excellently effortless aerial work and spectacular fire use aids this brilliantly. Maistrou's charismatic, handsome Witch is the lynchpin of the production.
In a nice feminist touch the five sisters, led by Princess Lilac and the loyal Catalabutte, race to find Carabosse and seize the antidote to the poison administered by him to their sister Aurora. They have only 24 hours to succeed in their mission.
Aided by Prince Desire, they battle it out and good triumphs in an exciting dual between the Prince and the Witch.
As Aurora, Olga Sharutenko is wonderful. We see her develop from innocent young girl to the joyous and loving Princess in the superb wedding pas de deux with her prince, splendidly danced by virtuosic Egor Chudin.
Alina Saprykina is a lovely Princess Lilac. Gentle yet strong.
In roles that are often simply 'wallpaper' ones, Volodymyr Khodakivskyy's King and Fiona Kirk's Queen are outstanding. As is Alexandr Kazakov's nerdy, loveable Catalabutte.
The five sisters and the corps de ballet, all soloists in their own right, display brilliant ensemble work.
Family-friendly, two hours, 10 minutes. Forget the rugby, there are still seats here.