“Well, serves you right, spoiling people’s best dreams.”
There’s nothing more beautiful in the arts than a fantastical ballet and once again Matthew Bourne, has created a masterpiece. He took a classic fairy tale and changed it into something more realistic, passionate and awe-inspiring. Instead of working as an indentured servant to a cruel step-mother and equally cruel step-sisters, such as in the world of Disney, Cinderella (the beautiful and charming Ashley Shaw) is an indentured servant to a step-family which includes her mean step-sisters Irene and Vivien, (Sophia Hurdley and Anjali Mehra respectively), step-brothers, Malcolm (Jackson Fisch), Vernon (Jack Jones) and Elliott (Paris Fitzpatrick) and their significant others, and Sybil, (Madelaine Brennan) the evil step-mother. Cinderella’s father Robert (Alan Vincet) is alive but wheelchair bound and can only painfully watch as the others treat his precious daughter with ongoing abuse.
Bourne takes the audience back to London in 1940 during World War II. The magnificent home that Cinderella grew up in is not a broken down faint memory. The family lost their wealth during the war. However, their bourgie attitude in acting superior toward Cinderella hasn’t changed. Instead of a magical fairy god-mother to save her, Cinderella is sent a handsome, sympathetic angel (Liam Mower) to her rescue. Gone are the rags she wore and her head wrapped in a torn scarf and out she comes wearing a couture sparkling white dress with matching elbow length gloves and her hair cascading downward like a smooth waterfall. Her prince, Harry (Andrew Monaghan) a pilot who gets shot and falls into Cinderella’s arms after she opens the door.
Shaw is absolutely wonderful. She’s a great advocate for Cinderella. She’s weary but still is caring. Her step-family heavily disappoints her but all those those feelings evaporate when she cares for Robert. She knows if he could do something he would. But for now, it is what it is. Shaw’s empathy for the role reaches the audience. She doesn’t ask for sympathy or pity. Even at her worst, Cinderella still sees the good. It’s her father’s love that makes her passively defiant. As the story goes, at first glance, the couple fall in love but not without their problems. The traditional missing slipper and the malicious way the family tries to separate the couple is in full effect. But, it is the genuine love that keeps Cinderella and Harry together is timeless.
Cinderella plays Friday, March 8th at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 9th at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 10th at 1 p.m. at the Ahmanson Theatre, located at 135 N Grand Ave, in Los Angeles. For tickets, call 213.628.2772.