We’d really been looking forward to the week leading up to Christmas, and had lots of festive activities planned, and then Monkey was poorly. Luckily the team at The Mill Arts Centre in Banbury re-arranged our tickets so Monkey could still go to the ball and see Cinderella and The Glass Slipper.
The Creation Theatre Company production of Cinderella and The Glass Slipper ran from 30th November to 31st December, and Monkey and I got to enjoy the matinée last Friday. We’d thoroughly enjoyed their performance of Alice in Wonderland the previous year, so were looking forward to an entertaining afternoon.
Aimed at those aged 5 years and over, this production takes a different twist on the traditional Brothers Grimm Cinderella story. It was to be Monkey’s first introduction to theatre in the round. He was totally mystified to see a totally different seating arrangement in a theatre he’s become accustomed too.
In Cinderella and The Glass Slipper, we meet Ella and her parents. Their love of nature becomes clear from the start of the show and we learn about a special tree that Ella planted with her mother as a young child. It’s the family’s special place and is revisited throughout the performance. Ella isn’t interested in fashion and fancy shoes, she likes to look at the stars and dance freely. Her appearance is not key, she’s not at all materialistic. Sadly Ella’s mother dies and before she knows it her father tells her she’s to have a new mother and a new brother and sister.
Cue the arrival of Melvina and Lester, the wicked step-sister and brother. They are used to living in the heart of the city, as part of a sophisticated set, where appearance is everything. How can anyone survive without a maid? For me, Géhane Strehler as Melvina, made the performance. She provided a great comic element to the show and Monkey and I both found her really funny.
The step family move in and manipulate the father to the point he happily agrees that Ella should take responsibility for all the domestic arrangements. Ella returns to her tree and meets a strange boy who’s running away from his father. They share a love of the stars and simple living, but he runs off before she can catch his name. It turns out that he is Prince Jude, and his father has announced that there will be a great party to find his son a bride. Melvina and Lester tell Ella that she cannot go to the party, and show them up. But Ella loves dancing, she really wants to dance the night away with or without her siblings approval. How can she go though, with only rags to wear. Cue an appearance from her mother as her fairy godmother. Ella will go to the ball. She soon discovers that the mystery boy is indeed the prince, they dance and he falls for this girl, who he doesn’t recognise. He wants her to be his wife.
Ella is a 21st century girl, with her own dreams and she isn’t particularly interested in marriage and certainly not when it’s just be presumed she’ll go along with the prince’s wishes. In true Cinderella style she runs away, leaving her glass slipper and the search starts to find the girl who fits the shoe.
Much to Monkey’s delight I got to try the slipper on, but sadly it didn’t fit. There were some wonderful songs in the performance, lots of energy and a theme of following your dreams whatever obstacles are in your way. Both Ella and Jude end up standing up for what they believe, her father comes to his senses and the step family return to the city.
Monkey did get a little thrown with the changes from the version of Cinderella that he knows, but he still enjoyed the show. I thought it was very clever, and a different take on the standard Christmas Panto, which Monkey has yet to experience. He certainly enjoyed the different set layout and I think I’ll be looking for more performances like this in the future. It really helps to keep children’s attention on the story, when they don’t know where the action will move next.
disclosure: we were given complimentary tickets in exchange for our honest thoughts